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VOL. I. 


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V I 



THERE is a widespread prejudice against the stndy 
of the Apocalypse. Though it is the great prophetic 
Book of the New Testament, the last of all the writings 
of Inspiration, a special message from the ascended 
Saviour to His Churches on earth, and pressed upon 
every one s attention with uncommon urgency, there 
are religious guides, sworn to teach " the whole counsel 
of God," who make a merit of not understanding it, 
and of not wishing to occupy themselves with it. If 
such treatment of an acknowledged part of the Sacred 
Canon is compatible with ministerial fidelity and Chris 
tian duty, the author of these Lectures is very much 
mistaken in his understanding of Christ s commands, 
as well as in his estimate of the purposes for which a 
Divine Revelation has been given. 

It is also manifest, if the Apocalypse is to be com 
prehended by Christians, and made to serve them as 
a writing from God worthy of the Holy Ghost, that a 


new style of dealing with it must be inaugurated, and 
a different class of books made to take the place of the 
prevailing literature on the subject. Indeed, there is 
no part of Biblical exposition in which real guides are 
so scarce, or fresh effort so much needed. 

Whether the work here offered is of the class to be 
desired, is to be determined by the character of its 
contents. Candid readers will hardly deny to it the 
merit of honesty of purpose, straightforwardness in 
the treatment of Divine things, simplicity and con 
sistency in the application of what the rapt Seer nar 
rates, direct leaning on the Sacred Word over against 
the stilted theories and rationalistic systems of men, 
and a self-evidencing force and satisfactoriness not 
generally found in attempts at Apocalyptical interpre 

The theological stand-point of the author is that 
of Protestant orthodoxy. He claims to be in thorough 
accord with the great Confessions of the early Church 
and of the Reformation. Contrary to these he has 
nothing to teach, though he is quite convinced that 
they have not, in every direction, altogether exhausted 
the contents of the Scriptures. Their Eschatology, par 
ticularly, is very summary, rendering further inquiry 
and clearer illustration desirable. These Confessions 


themselves also legitimate and provide for such further 
investigation of the Divine Oracles. It is contrary 
both to them and the Scriptures, to undertake to warn 
off from the study of anything which God has caused 
to be written for us, provided that no part of settled 
Christian faith be contravened. Not against that 
whereunto the Church has hitherto attained, but on the 
basis of it, it is the vocation of Christians to go on ex 
ploring for the full truth which God has given for their 
learning and profit. And if anything is encountered 
in these Lectures, beyond what has been commonly 
thought, let it not be rejected too hastily, but dispas 
sionately weighed, in the fear of God, and in just re 
gard for His infallible Word. 

A " Revised Text " has been printed at the heads 
of the Lectures. It is not offered as a substitute for 
the common English Version; though the received 
text of the Apocalypse is in a worse condition than 
that of any other book of the New Testament. The 
object of the author s " Revised Text " is simply to 
present, in connected form, the best results of modern 
textual criticism, as developed by Tischendorf, Tre- 
gelles, Hengstenberg, Mford, Trench, Wordsworth, 
and other able and laborious investigators, together 
with an original collation of the lately discovered and 



highly to t/e prized Codex Sinaiticus. The value of 
such a "Revised Text," in more fully representing the 
idiom of the inspired record, in exhibiting what cer 
tainly belongs to the most ancient copies, and in as 
sisting the verification of the expositions given, will 
not be disputed by scholars, nor lightly esteemed by 
the common reader. As Tregelles has said of his ver 
sion of the Apocalypse, translated from the Ancient 
Greek text, so it may be said of this, and now with 
greater certainty, that u the reader may rest satisfied, 
that he has here a version of a Text, of which every 
word rests on competent evidence of twelve hundred 
years old at least; and almost all on consenting evi 
dence of fourteen hundred years old ; indeed, including 
the evidence of the Versions, ALL has authority of 
at least this antiquity." And as to the translation, 
nothing has been given which has not the concurrent 
sanction of eminent masters of the Greek tongue in 
general, and of the Greek of the New Testament in 

The Lectures themselves have been composed and 
delivered at different intervals of time, as occasion 
rendered convenient. From the interest manifested 
in them at their delivery, and at the urgent solicitation 
of many who listened to them, their publication has 


oeen commenced before the completion of the course. 
Some of them have gone forth in numbers, even in ad 
vance of the first volume, which is now presented to 
the public. It is the intention of the author, if life 
and health be spared, to continue the series, and to 
go through the whole Apocalypse, after the same man 
ner of this first volume. 

Those of God s people who find pleasure and edifi 
cation in such studies, are earnestly requested to give 
these labors a place in their prayers, that the author 
may successfully complete what, under particular con 
straints of conscience, he has thus begun, and that 
God s blessing may be upon what he now devoutly 
commits to the care of Divine Providence, and to the 
serious attention of all Christians and all men. 



CHJLP. 1 : 1-8. 

The Preface, ooupo, Contents, Derivation, Value, and Pre- 
cicusness of the Apocalypse, .... pp. 18-S8 

CHAP. 1 : 4-8. 

The Apostolic Introduction to the Apocalypse, and its 
several Important Allusions, .... pp. 39-64 

CHJLP. 1 : 9-17. 

The First Vision A Picture of the Saviour in His relation 
to the Churches, pp. 65-90 

CHJLP. 1 : 17-20. 

Supplementary Declarations, touching the Character and 
Prerogatives of Christ, pp. 91-116 

CHJLP. 1 : 20. 

The Seven Churches Meaning of Numbers The Seven 
Ages of the Church, . . pp. 117-145 


CHAPS. 2 and 8. 

The Seven Epistles Their General Character and Con- 
teats, pp. 146-178 

CHAP. 3 : 21. 

The Prophetic Significance of the Seven Epistles, and their 
Identification in History, pp. 174-208 


CHAP. 4 : 1. 
The Career and End of the Church on Earth, . pp. 204-232 

CHAP. 4 : 1-11. 

The Church in Heaven The Throne The Elders The 
Living Ones, pp. 233-262 

CHAP. 5 : 1-14. 

The Seven-Sealed Book What it imports The taking of 
it by the Lamb, pp. 263-292 

CHAP. 6 : 1-2. 

The Breaking of the Seals The First Seal The Conquest* 
of the White Horseman, pp. 293-820 

CHAP. 6 : 3-8. 

The Second, Third, and Fourth Seals War Famine 
Death pp. 821-344 


CHAP. 6 : 9-11. 

The Fifth Seal Bloody PersecutionThe Souls under the 
Altar, pp. 346-876 

CHAP. 6 : 12-17. 

Opening of the Sixth Seal A Universal Shaking of the 
System of Nature, pp. 377-401 

CHAP. 7 : 1-8. 

A Lull in the Storms of Judgment The Mysterious Seal 
ing of the 144,000, pp. 402-428 

CHAP. 7 : 9-17. 

The Heavenly Palm-bearers clothed in white Who they 
we Whence they came, pp. 429-454 




RT. CHAP. 1:13 (Revised Text). The Revelation of Jesus 
Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants that 
which must come to pass speedily ; and he signified [it] lending by 
his angel to his servant John ; who attested the word of God, and 
the testimony of Jesus Christ, what things soever he saw. Blessed he 
who readeth, and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and 
*ohserve the things which are written in it : for the time [is] near. 

TT has been upon my mind, and in my heart, for 
a long time, to deliver a series of special dis 
courses upon this remarkable portion of the Holy 
Scriptures ; not from a conceit of superior wisdom 
or spiritual gifts ; not with the vain ambition of 
making all mysteries plain, nor yet out of mere 
curious desire to pry into the things of the future ; 
but out of solemn reverence for all that God has 
caused to be written for our learning, with a view 
conscientiously to declare the whole counsel of 



God, and with an earnest desire to secure for 
myself and those who hear me that special bene 
diction which is pronounced upon them that read, 
hear, and keep what is written in this prophecy. 

I have delayed the commencement of this work 
till now, partly on account of the bodily infirmities 
under which I have labored for the past two years, 
and partly because I desired first to qualify myself 
better by ampler investigation, and by a more 
thorough mastery of the difficulties which have 
hindered the success of other attempts to explain 
this book. And, for the same reasons, I am un 
able, even now, to promise the continuation of 
these discourses, except at irregular intervals. So 
far, however, as God shall give me strength, I 
shall pursue them to their end. 

I am also very sure, as God has promised his 
Spirit to them that ask him, and directed those 
who lack wisdom to seek for it at his hands, and 
pronounced all inspired writings to be " for our 
learning" and comfort, that it will be profitable 
for all of us, in humble dependence upon Divine 
grace and guidance, carefully to review what this 
book was meant to teach. 

And may I not ask you, to give ms your atten 
tion, as I proceed with these expositions, and to 
unite with me in earnestly invoking God s helpful 
illuminations, that we may rightly understand hi 
solemn message to his people. 

The words which I have announced for our 
present consideration, give us the Divine Preface 
or superscription to this book. They are meant 

LECTURE I. CHAP. 1 : 1-3 | 

to advise the reader as to that with which he is 
about to deal, and to prepare him to appreciate 
what is to follow. They relate to three leading 
points : 


Let us look briefly at these several particulars. 

What concerns the subject and contents of this 
book, I find for the most part in the name which 
it gives itself. It is the common rule with Scrip 
ture names, to express the substance of the things 
to which they are applied. The name of God ex 
presses what God is ; so the names of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and all the leading names found in the 
Bible. Even those which the Church has given, 
are often wonderfully expressive and significant. 
Genesis is the generation of things ; JExodus, the 
going forth from bondage ; Tlie Gospel, the very 
heart and substance of all God s gracious commu 
nications the good news. And when God him 
self designates this book The Revelation of J*$us 
Christ, we may rest assured, that it is the very 
substance and kernel of the book that is expressed 
in this title. 

What, then, are we to understand by " The 
Apocalypse of Jesus Christ f" There are certain 
books (adopted and held sacred by the Church 
of Rome, which we, however, receive only as 
human productions), which have a name some 
what similar to this in sound. You find them in 
some Bibles, between the Old and Kew Testaments, 


bearing the name of Apocrypha. But Apocry* 
pha is just the opposite of Apocalypse. Apocry 
pha means something that is concealed, not set 
forth, not authentic ; Apocalypse means something 
revealed, disclosed, manifested, shown. The verb 
awroxcdyTTTiw, means to reveal, to make manifest, to un 
cover to view. The noun anoxdXutfu;, means a revela 
tion, a disclosure, an appearing, a making manifest. 
The Apocalypse, or Revelation of Jesus Christ, 
must therefore be the revealment, manifestation, 
appearing, of Jesus Christ. 

Some accept the words as if they were meant to 
express the revealment of the Revelation. This I 
take to be a mistake, and a vital mistake, as re 
gards any right interpretation of this book. It is 
not the Apocalypse which is the subject of the 
disclosure. This book is not the Apocalypse of 
the Apocalypse, but THE APOCALYPSE OF JESUS 

And this is the key to the whole book. It is a 
book of which Christ is the great subject and cen 
tre, particularly in that period of his administra 
tions and glory designated as the day of his unco 
vering, the day of his appearing. It is not a mere 
prediction of divine judgments^upon the wicked, 
and of the final triumph of the righteous, made 
known by Christ; but a book of the revelation of 
Christ, in his own person, offices, and future ad 
ministrations, when he shall be seen coming from 
heaven, as he was once seen going into heaven. 
If " The Revelation of Jesus Christ" meant 
nothing more than certain communications made 

LECTURE I. CHAP. 1:1-*. 17 

known by Christ, I can see no significance or pro 
priety in affixing this title to this book, rather than 
to any other books of holy Scripture. Are they 
not all alike the revelation of Jesns Christ, in this 
sense ? Does not Peter say of the inspired writers 
in general, that they were moved by the Spirit of 
Christ which was in them ? Why then single out 
this particular book as " The Revelation of Jesus 
Christ," when it is no more the gift of Jesus than 
any other inspired book ? Besides, it would be 
particularly strange, that this book should be so 
specially designated " The Revelation of Jesus 
Christ" in the sense of revelation by Christ, when 
the book itself declares that it was not received 
from Christ, but from an angel or messenger of 
Christ. These considerations alone ought to 
satisfy us that there is something more distinctive 
and characteristic in this title than is embraced in 
its ordinary acceptation. For my own part, I am 
perfectly convinced, from a review of the places in 
which the word occurs in the New Testament, as 
well as from all the contents of this particular part 
of it, that The Apocalypse, or Revelation of Jesus 
Christ, means Jesus Christ revealed, and unco 
vered to mortal view ; and not merely Jesus Christ 
revealing, and making known hidden things to be 
recorded for our learning. Let me refer to a few 
passages bearing upon the case. 

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 : 7), 
speaks of them as enriched in every spiritual gift, 
confirmed in the testimony of Christ, and " wait 
ing for the Apocalypse (ryv anoxd^txptv) the coming of 

VOL. I. 2 


our Lord Jesus Christ." The original word here 
is exactly the same as that in the text; the struc 
ture of the sentence is also much the same ; but 
no one mistakes its meaning for a moment, All 
agree that it refers to Christ in his revelation from 
heaven, when he shall come in the clouds with 
power and great glory. And if such is its unmis 
takable meaning here, why not take it in the same 
sense in the text? So in Thessalonians (1 : 6-10) 
he refers his readers to a time of rest, " when the 
Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven (evn? 
axoxcdufat TOO Kuplou, literally, at the Apocalypse of the 
Lord), with his mighty angels, in naming nre, 
taking vengeance on them that know not God ; 
when he sJiall come to be glorified in his saints, and 
to be admired in all them that believe." No one 
misunderstands what The Apocalypse of the Lord 
Jesus is in this passage. Paul himself explains it 
to be His coming, in just such administrations as 
were shown John in this book. 

So again in 1 Peter 1 : 7, where that apostle 
Bpeaks of his brethren as " in heaviness through 
manifold temptations," that the trial of their 
faith, " being much more precious than of gold 
that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, 
might be found unto praise and honor and glory 
at the Apocalypse (ev a^oxaXutpsi)^ appearing of 
Jesus Christ." Also in verse 13, where he ex 
horts his readers to "be sober, and hope to the 
end for the grace that is to be brought unto them 
at the Apocalypse (ev aKoxali></>et), the revelation of Jesus 
Christ." All understand the reference in these 

LECTURE I. CHAP. 1 : 1-S. jg 

passages to be to the coming of Christ in the glory 
of his second advent, when " every eye shall see 
him, and they which pierced him." We all feel 
that it would be a wilful perversion of the word 
of God to make the Apocalypse of Christ, in these 
passages, mean anything else than his personal ap 
pearing. And the same is the fixed meaning of 
this phrase in every other passage in which it is 
used. Even in that from Galatians (1 : 12), which 
might seem to assign it a different signification, 
the idea is not simply that of a revealer, but of 
one revealed by personal manifestation. Paul 
there avers, that the gospel he preached was uot 
of man ; " for," says he, " I neither received it of 
man, neither was I taught it, but by the Apocalypse 
(81 aKoxalixpeax-) through the revelation of Jesus Christ; " 
that is, by Christ s personal appearance to him, as 
the succeeding verses show; for lie straightway 
proceeds to narrate that marvellous affair on the 
way to Damascus. What that Apocalypse was, 
he on various occasions described. Before Agrip- 
pa, he said, " As I went to Damascus with au 
thority and commission from the chief priests, at 
midday, O King, I saw in the way a light from 
heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining 
round about me and them which journeyed with 
me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I 
heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in a 
Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutes! thou 
me ? And I said, Who art thou, Lord ? And he 
said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest, but rise, 
and stand upon thy feet ; for I have appeared unto 


thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and 
a witness both of these things which thon hast setn, 
and of those things in which I will appear unto 
thee." Hence his appeal in vindication of his 
apostleship. " Am I not an apostle ? Have I not 
seen Jesus Clirixt our Lord ?" (1 Cor. 9 : 1.) All 
this shows, as conclusively as may be, that the 
Apocalypse of Christ, through which he obtained 
at once his office and his text, was a personal ap 
pearance, as every real Apocalypse predicated of a 
person must be. 

With the meaning of this word thus established, 
what can that book be, of which it is- descriptive, 
but an account of the revelation of Christ in his 
personal forthcoming from his present invisible 
estate, to receive his Bride, judge the wicked, and 
set up his eternal kingdom on the earth. 

With this also agrees the statement of John as 
to the circumstances under which he came to the 
knowledge of the things which he narrates. He 
says he " was in Spirit in the Lord s day" in which 
he beheld what he afterwards wrote. What is 
meant by this Lord s day f Some answer, Sun 
day the first day of the week; but I am not 
satisfied with this explanation. Sunday belongs 
indeed to the Lord, but the Scriptures nowhere 
call it "the Lord s day." None of the Christian 
writings, for 100 years after Christ, ever call it 
"the Lord s day." But there is a "Day of the 
Lord" largely treated of by prophets, apostles, 
and faihers, the meaning of which is abundantly 
clear and settled. It is that day in which, Isaiah 

LECTURE I. CHAP. 1.1-8. 21 

says, men shall hide in the rocks for fear of the 
Lord, and for the glory of his majesty; the day 
which Joel describes as the day of destruction 
from the Almighty, when the Lord shall roar out 
of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and 
the heavens and the earth shall shake ; the day 
to which the closing chapter of Malachi refers as 
the day that shall burn as an oven, and in which 
the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing 
in his wings; the day which Paul proclaimed 
from Mars Hill as that in which God will judge 
the world, concerning which he so earnestly ex 
horted the Thessalonians, and which was not to 
come until after a great apostacy from the faith, 
and the ripening of the wicked for destruction; 
ihe day in the which, Peter says, the heavens shall 
be changed, the elements melt, the earth burn, 
and ail present orders of things give way to new 
heavens and a new earth; even "the day for 
which all other days were made." And hi that 
day I understand John to say, he in some sense 
was. In the mysteries of prophetic rapport, which 
the Scriptures describe as " in Spirit" and which 
Paul declared inexplicable, he was caught out of 
himself, and out of his proper place and time, and 
stationed amid the stupendous scenes of the great 
day of God, and made to see the actors in them, 
and to look upon them transpiring before his eyes, 
that he might write what he saw, and give it to 
the Churches. 

This is what I understand bv his being " in 


Spirit in the Lord s day."* I can see IK essential 
difference between ^ Koptax.^ r^toa. the Lord s day, 
and ^ -fjpiepa Kuptoo the day of the Lord. They are 
simply the two forms for signifying the same rela 
tions of the same things. t Arid if John was thus 
mystically dow among the scenes of the last day, 
and has written only what he says he has written, 
that is " things that he saw ;" it cannot be otherwise 
but that in dealing with the contents of this book we 
are dealing with what relates pre-eminently to the 
great Apocalypse and Epiphany of our Lord, when 
he cometh to judge the world in righteousness. 

And when we come to consider the actual con 
tents of this book, we find them harmonizing ex 
actly with this understanding of its title. It takes 
as its chief and unmistakable themes what other 
portions of the Scriptures assign to the great day 

* And so Wetstein, Zullig, Dr. S. R. Maitland, Dr. Todd, and 
B. W. Newton. 

f Our English Translators have frequently used both these 
modes of expressing the genitive case of the same noun, both 
in Hebrew and Greek. Compare Gen. 28 : 17 and Gen. 28 : 
22, where * House of God" and " God s house" mean precise 
ly the same. So " Load s law," Ex. 13:9, and " Law of the 
Lord," 2 Chron. 12 : 1 ; " The Lord s people," 3 Sum. 2 : 24, 
and " People of the Lord," Judges 5 : 11. In all these instances 
the Septuagint presents the same forms as the original. So in 
the New Testament we have the same variety of expression to 
signify exactly the same relation?. In 1 Cor. 10 : 21, for the 
same grammatical form in Greek, we have " Lord s table," 
and "Table of devils ;" in 2 Cor. 2: 12, Christ s Gospel" for 
"Gospel of Christ;" in 2 Pet. 4 : 13, " Christ s sufferings," and 
in 1 Pet. 5:1," Sufferings of Christ." The same may be seen 
in Rev. 11 : 15, where the kingdoms of the world become our 
Lord s and bis Christ s kingdoms. 

LBCTDRE I. CHAP. 1:1-3. 23 

of the Lord. It is nothing but Apocalypse from 
beginning to end. First we have the Apocalypse 
of Christ in his relation to the earthly Churches, 
and his judgment of them; then the Apocalypse 
of his relation to the glorified Church, and the 
marshalling of them for his forthcoming to judge 
the world; then the Apocalypse of his relation to 
the scenes of the judgment, as they are manifested 
on earth under the opening of the seals, the 
prophesying of the witnesses, and the fall of 
Babylon ; then the Apocalypse of his actual mani 
festation to the world in the battle of the great 
day of God Almighty, the establishment of his 
kingdom, and the investiture of the saints in their 
future sovereignties ; and finally the Apocalypse of 
his relation to the final act of judgment, the de 
struction of death and the grave, and the introduc 
tion of the final estate of a perfected Redemption. 
What, indeed, is all this, but just what was fore 
told by all the prophets, by Christ himself, and by 
all his apostles, as pertaining to THE DAT OF THE 
LORD ? Verily, this book is but the rehearsal, in 
another and ampler manner, of what all the Scrip 
tures tell us about the last day and the eternal 
judgment. It is pre-eminently The Apocalypse 
and Epiphany of Jesus Christ.* 

II. Notice now Us derivation and a uthorskip. Th e 

* "This divine book, let others call it what they please, is an 
admirable prophecy, directed wholly to the times, immediate 
upon the coming of the Lord. In which are announced all 
the principal matters which shall immediately precede ; in 
which is announced in a manner the most magnificent the 


text represents it as the gift of God tc Christ. It 
is callad " The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, which 
God gave unto him." Some understand this gift 
in the sense of signified, made blown to ; and so put 
themselves under the necessity of explaining how 
this could be without compromising our Lord s 
Divinity. This is the first difficulty engendered 
by the departure from the proper scriptural mean 
ing of the word Apocalypse. People take it as 
denoting a piece of information, and so represent 
Christ in a state of ignorance respecting the sub- 
limest results of his mediatorship until after his 
ascension into heaven. The incongruities of such 
an acceptation should teach men better. The 
Apocalypse of Christ is the future reappearance 
of Christ, clothed with the honors and crowned 
with the triumphs which are to characterize that 
forthcoming, and not the mere knowledge or de 
scription of these things. And it is that Apoca 
lypse, with all its glorious concomitants and re 
sults, that God has, in covenant, given to Christ ; 
given to him as the crowning reward of his me 
diatorial work, as the Scriptures every where teach. 
The promise of the victory of the woman s 
seed involved this gift. Hannah s song speaks of 
it as strength and exaltation which the Lord be- 
very coming of the Lord in glory and majesty ; in which are 
announced the admirable and stupendous events which, shall 
accompany that coming, and which shall follow it. The title 
of the book shows well to what it is all directed ; what is its 
argument, and what its determinate end: The Apocalypse 
Revelation of Jesus Christ." Emanuel Lacunza, " Coming o/ 
Messiah," p. 200. 

LECTURE I. CHAP. 1:1-3. 25 

stoweth upon his anointed. God s promise to 
David of a son whose kingdom is to be established 
forever embraces it. It is the great theme of 
the second Psalm, where God says to his son: "I 
shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, 
and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy pos 
session thou shalt break them with a rod of iron ; 
thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter s 
vessel." It is in Isaiah s pictures of Messiah, in 
Jeremiah s prophecies, in the words of the annun 
ciation to Mary, in Christ s own parables, and in 
all the writings of the Apostles. Because Christ 
" made himself of no reputation, and took upon 
him the form of a servant, and was made in the 
likeness of men, and humbled himself, and became 
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, 
God hath highly exalted him, and given him a 
name which is above every name, that at the name 
of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in 
heaven, and things in earth, and things under the 
earth, and that every tongue should confess that 
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the 
Father." We are told that there was joy set 
before Christ as the reward of his sufferings and 
death, and that it was "/or the joy that was set 
before him, he endured the cross, despising the 
shame." And whatever else may be included 
in that exaltation or that joy, highest and 
greatest of all is a future Apocalypse, when " the 
Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the 
holy angels with him, and he shall sit <(<. the 
throne of his glory." This, then, is what God 


"gave to Jesus Christ," in promise, when he 
commenced his work, in its earnest, when he 
raised him from the dead and received him into 
glory ; and thus gave what constitutes the substance 
of this hook. 

But as the full manifestation of this endowment 
of Christ is still future, and it is important for his 
followers to be well informed concerning it, the 
blessed Saviour, after his ascension, took measures 
to have the facts becomingly communicated to his 
servants on earth. " And he sent and signified [the 
same ] by his angel." In stating who this angel was, 
I do not venture to be specific. His own account 
of himself to John, was, " I am thy fellow-servant, 
and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them 
which keep the sayings of this book" (Rev. 22 : 
9). From this, it has been thought, that he was 
one of the old prophets, or some one standing in 
a closer relation to Christ and the Church than 
can be affirmed of angels proper. It is also some 
what confirmative of this view, that whilst the 
angels are called " ministering spirits" (Heb. 
1 : 14), they are not called " God s servants," nor 
fellows of the prophets and apostles, as in the case 
before us. Let it suffice, however, for,us to know, 
that it was some heavenly messenger, commis 
sioned by the Lord Jesus in glory, to come and 
make known these apocalyptic wonders. 

Some have found difficulty in tracing the agency 
of this angel in the book itself. " It is remarka 
ble," says one, " that this angel does not appear as 
the imparter of the visions until chapter seven- 

LECTURE I. CHAP. 1:1-3. 27 

teen." This would imply, that what God here 
says about the derivation of this book is only true 
with respect to a very small fraction of it. I 
cannot agree thus to stint and stultify the words 
of the Almighty. The proper explanation of the 
office of the angel is to be found in the words 
signified and saw. The word rendered signified^ 
taken in connection with the fact that the things 
signified were matters of contemplation by means 
of the eyes, can denote nothing else than an actual 
picturing of those scenes a making of them pass 
before the view the same as if they were really 
transpiring. The office of the angel, then, as I 
take it, was, to form the connection between 
John s senses or imagination and the things which 
he was to describe, making to pass in review be 
fore him what was only afterwards to take place 
in fact. How this was done, I cannot say : but as 
the devil could take Jesus to a high mountain, 
and show him at one view " all the kingdoms of 
the world, and the glory of them," I am sure that 
it falls sufficiently within the sphere of angelic 
natures thus to picture things to man ; and that 
when commissioned of the Lord for the purpose, 
no good angel is wanting in ability to be the in 
strument in making John see whatever visions he 
describes in this book. And when God himself 
tells me that what is here set forth was thus sig 
nified to John, I will persist in referring every one 
of the visions, with all that he says he saw and 
heard, to the intervention of this angelic agent, 
and believe that in all sacred things we are vastly 


more dependent upon angelic ministrations than 
we know or can understand. " Are they not all 
ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who 
shall be heirs of salvation f" (Heb. 1 : 14.) 

But there is still another link in the chain of 
agencies through which the great things of this 
book have been made known to men. Given of 
God, sent by Christ, signified by an angel, they 
were linally recorded by John, and by him com 
municated to the Churches. 

Nor need we be in doubt as to what John this 
is. The text describes him as that "John, who 
attested the word of God, and the testimony of 
Jesus Christ." And Who is it that the Churches 
from the beginning have known as the attestor 
of the Logos, or Word of God, and of the testi 
mony which Christ gave, but John the Apostle, 
the beloved disciple? Turn to the Gospel by 
John, and see whether it be not wholly taken up 
with exactly these things. The first chapter gives 
the only full account which the Scriptures contain 
respectingthe pre-existence of the Logos, or "Word, 
in the Godhead, and the sameness of that Word 
with him who was born of Mary, tabernacled in 
the flesh, and was called Jesus of Nazareth. Was 
not this bearing " record of the Word of God ?" 
Do we not find another summary of the same 
testimony in the first chapter of his first epistle ? 
What else does he mean by the account which he 
gives of his testimony, when he says, " That which 
was from the beginning, which we have heard, 
which we have seen with our eyes, which we have 

LECTURE I. CHAP. 1:1-5. 29 

looked upon, and our hands have handled of the 
Word of life, declare we unto you?" Are not 
both his first and second epistles but arguments, 
against various evil spirits which were gone 
abroad, that Jesus is the Word of God, the only 
Christ, the Son of God, and that all who deny this 
are liars and Antichrist? And in reference to 
the great body of his Gospel, does he not himself 
say, "These things are written, that ye might 
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, 
and that believing ye might have life through hia 
name ?" Does not all this make out for John a 
particular distinction as the apostle "who attest 
ed the Word of God, and the testimony of Jesus 

Some say that it was not John the Apostle who 
wrote this book, but another John, contemporane 
ous with the apostle. But it is notyet conclusively 
proven that there was such a John other than the 
apostle ; and, if there even was, there is not the 
first tittle of evidence that he had ever distin 
guished himself for his record concerning the 
Logos, or concerning the testimonies, which he 
himself saw, by which Christ announced him 
self as the Messiah and the Son of God. I con 
clude, therefore, upon the solid basis of God s 
own identification of the author of this book, that 
it was the Apostle John who wrote it. 

Such also has been the conviction of the best 
portions of the Church from the beginning. For 
the first two centuries the universal Christian tes 
timony ascribed the Apocalypse to the pen of 


"that disciple whom Jesus loved." In the third 
century, out of a desire to get rid of its authority 
for certain unpalatable doctrines, there were some 
who ascribed it to Cerinthus, a reputed heretic of 
the first century. But, " if the common consent 
of all antiquity is to overturn the heady rashness 
of well-meaning hut inconsiderate men of evil 
name ; then we have the most satisfactory evidence 
that this book was written by John the Apostle, 
and believed by the Church to be most fully in-, 
spired. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, TertuHiun, Cle 
mens Alexandrinus, Origen, Jerome, Augustine, 
and a continued stream of Orthodox authority to 
our day, from the age next to that in which it was 
written, concur in the reception, the admiration, 
and the observance of this book."* 

* Irving in loc. Some have sought to make a great deal 
of certain alleged discrepancies between the style and modes 
of expression used in the Apocalypse, and those contained in 
John s Gospel and Epistles. But Alford has very well ob 
served, that "there are at the same time striking notes of 
similarity in expression and cast of thought," and that " we 
are not in a position to take into account the effect of a totally 
different subject and totally different circumstances upon one, 
who though knowing and speaking Greek, was yet a Hebrew 
by birth." Greek Test. Prol. Rev. 

And one of our ablest linguists and critics, " after an ex 
amination successively renewed through many years," says, 
" I have never been able to satisfy myself, that what has been 
the common belief of the Churches in all ages respecting the 
authorship of the Apocalypse, is not sustained by more and bet 
ter grounds than any other opinion." Stuart on Apoc., I, 285. 

"There is scarcely a book in the whole Bible whose genu 
ineness and inspiration were more strongly attested on its first 
appearance than the Apocalypse. No doubts whatever ?een 

LECTURE I. CHAP. 1:1-8. 31 

Such, then, is the exalted source and deriva 
tion of this wonderful production. It takes its 
origin in God s covenant gift to Jesus Christ as 
the reward of triumph and glory for his humilia 
tion and obedience unto death. It was sent by 
the loving Saviour from heaven, in the charge of 
an angelic messenger, to be shown to John. And 
by the hands of " that disciple whom Jesus loved/ 
thus visited in his lonely exile emblem of that 
consolation in distress with which this book has 
ever irradiated the dark and gloomy days of the 
Church, was traced out in the language of mor 
tals, and delivered over as Christ s last message 
to his people on earth. 

III. A word or two now as to the value and jyre- 

to have been entertained on these points. Suffice it now to 
eay, that Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenseus, Melito, that is, 
eminent teachers in the Church, in the next age to that in 
which it was written proclaim that its writer was St. John, 
the beloved disciple of Christ. Such was then the voice of the 
Church." Wordsworth on Apoc., p. 22. 

"So ends our Catena of testimonies to the genuineness and 
divine inspiration of the Apocalypse traced through the three 
half centuries that followed after its publication. Alike from 
East and West, North and South, from the Churches of the 
Asiatic province and the Syrian, of Italy and of Gaul, of 
Egypt and of Africa, we have heard an unbroken and all 
but uniform voice of testimony in its favor. And on the 
whole, and in conclusion, it does appear to me that Augus 
tine and the Latin Council had good reason for their solemn 
verdict; and that we may safely and unhesitatingly direct our 
inquiries into the meaning of the Apocalypse, as into that of 
a prophecy of the future, revealed to the beloved disciple, by 
none other than Christ s own divine, eternal, omniscient 
Spirit." Elliott s Nora Apoc., Prel. E$sn.y. 


ciousness of this book. A gift which the Great God 
thinks a befitting honor and compensation to 
Christ for all his great deeds of love and conde 
scension ; a thing which the blessed Lord in 
heaven esteemed of sufficient moment to be made 
known by a special embassage, which holy angela 
considered it an honor to be permitted to signify, 
and which the tenderness of the disciple of love 
so conscientiously recorded for the comfort and 
admonition of the people of God in every age, 
certainly is not a thing of trifling significance. 
If we are interested in the story of the manger 
and the cross ; if we can draw strength for our 
prayers and hopes by invoking Christ by the 
mystery of his incarnation, fasting, temptation, 
agony, and bloody sweat; if we find it such a 
precious treasure to our souls to come into un- 
doubting sympathy with the scenes of his humi 
liation and grief; what should be our appreciation 
of this book, which treats of the fruits of those 
sufferings, and tells only of that wronged Saviour s 
glory and triumphs, and shows us our Lord en 
throned in majesty, riding prosperously, and scat 
tering to his ransomed ones the crowns and 
regencies of empire which shall never perish, and 
celestial blessednesses without number and above 
aU thought! 

"All Scripture," indeed, "is profitable, for 
doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruc 
tion in righteousness, that the man of God may 
be thoroughly furnished unto all good works ;" 
but there are some portions more especially signi- 

LECTURE I. CHAP. 1:1-3. 33 

ficant and precious, and proper attention to which 
is fraught with particular advantages. Of this 
sort is this book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. 
What saith the text? "Blessed is he that read- 
eth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, 
and keep those things which are written therein." 
The same is repeated in chapter 22 : 7, " Blessed 
is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of 
this book." Of course, the more we learn and 
know of Christ, the better it will be for us, if the 
spirit of faith and obedience be in our hearts; 
and this book is pre-eminently the Revelation of 
Christ. It sets out our blessed Lord, and draws 
away the veil which hangs between us and him, 
and lifts us up into the sublimest things of heaven. 
It shows us how the Son of man has been reward 
ed by the Father, and what works and offices are 
assigned unto that meek Lamb. It shows us the 
history of our Saviour s person, all-glorious and 
exalted, and his great ministrations in the Church 
and in the universe, until his coming again from 
the throne and in the power of the Father, with 
all the armies of heaven with him. Above all 
does it dwell upon that great Apocalypse, the 
condition in which it will find the world, what it 
will bring to his prepared and waiting saints, what 
it will inflict upon lukewarm believers, infidels, 
and evil-doers, and what will be the character and 
issues of that great day of God Almighty. It tells 
what the Church will be till Christ comes, what 
it will be in that period of dreadful trial, what 
Satan and his children will attempt, and how the 
VOL. i. 3 


Lord Jesus shall trample them down nader the 
glory of his power, raise the dead, renew the 
world, arid set up forever his hlessed reign in it. 
It shows us what will be the final triumphs and 
rewards of the saints for their present griefs and 
toils ; what will be the future of our world ; how 
it is to be renewed, cleansed, beautified, and in 
vested with heavenly excellencies ; and how the 
light, and knowledge and glory of God is to 
become its eternal possession. 

It is always important for us to be forewarned 
with regard to the future. It is our nature to be 
forecasting, and it is one of the necessities of our 
well-being to be able to anticipate with accuracy, 
at least with regard to the leading things that 
shall concern us. He who does not shape the 
conduct of to-day with reference to some end 
foreseen or calculated on for some other day, is a 
mere fool and madman, whether it be in the 
things of God, or in the things of the world. 
And in this book we are certified beforehand of 
what God hath determined concerning the future 
what the devout may hope for, what the indif 
ferent and unbelieving have to fear, wherein the 
true safety and consolation of man is to be found, 
what tribulations are to come upon the world, and 
what birth-pangs are yet to be passed through to 
reach that Golden Age of which prophets and 
poets of all nations and times have spoken.* 

* "The Apocalypse completes the Canon of Scripture ; and 
with rererence be it said, the sacred Canon would be impeifect 
without it," Wordsworth. 

LEG TUBE I. CHAP. 1:1-3. 35 

There is also a peculiar efficacy and power in 
the doctrine of Christ s speedy return. Like a 
magnet, it lifts the heart of the believer out of the 
world, and out of his low self, and enables him to 
stand with Moses on the mount, and transfigures 
him with the rays of blessed hope and promise 
which stream upon him in those sublime heights. 
It is the most animating and most sanctifying sub 
ject in the Bible. It is the soul s serenest light 
amid the darkness and trials of earth. And the 
great end and aim of this book is to set forth this 
doctrine. The things of which it treats, are 
things touching the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, 
and which it describes as "things which must 
shortly come to pass." The impending Advent is 
the theme which pervades it from its commence 
ment to its close. And just in proportion as he 
who is awake to the great truth of the Saviour s 
speedy coming, and is engaged in waiting and 
preparing himself accordingly, is a better man, 
and in a safer condition, and really more happy, 
than the half-christiau and the lukewarm; in 
that same proportion is he who reads, hears and 
keeps the words of this prophecy blessed beyond 
all other people. This book, at least its subject- 
matter, thus becomes to him an instrument of 
security and attainment to save him from surprise 
when his Lord cometh, and from the tribulations 
which shall try the indifferent ; as well as a pass- 
porl ,,0 admit him to the marriage supper of the 
Lamb, and to the highest awards of eternity. 
Precious book ! and happy they who study it ! 


Nor can I close without remarking how all this 
plucks up, and crushes to atoms, those erroneous 
and mischievous notions entertained by many, 
that there is nothing useful in prophetic studies. 
To say nothing of the duty of giving heed to what 
God has thought it important to record, or of the 
folly of seeing only peril in trying to understand 
what the Spirit of God has inspired for our learn 
ing and consolation, what man is he, who, in the 
face of this text, and its outspoken benediction, 
will venture to denounce investigation into sacred 
prophecy ? What if it is often dark and mysteri 
ous ? The darker and more difficult, the greater 
the reason for earnest examination. Be the ob 
scurity and mystery what it may, God says, 
" Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear 
the words, and keep those things which are writ 
ten." What if this book of Revelation is the 
fullest of all of dark things and perplexing myste 
ries ? It is then a book which above all needs our 
most solemn and studious attention. Nay, it is 
concerning this book especially that God pro 
nounces this blessedness upon the devout and 
obedient inquirer. 

Some tell us that what is yet future ought not 
to be examined into till after it has come to pass. 
I can hardly realize that this is seriously meant. 
Yet I have had it argued to me, even in Jerusalem 
itself. Do such persons not perceive that they 
thus judge God, and Christ, and the sent angel of 
Christ, and John the beloved disciple of Christ, 
and join issue with the God of truth as to the 

LECTURE L CHAP. 1:1-13. 37 

correctness of his utterances ? I find also that 
those who so argue are prone to insist that the 
day of death is the same as Christ s coming. 
Do they then mean that a man is only to study 
the predictions of that coming after he is dead ? 
Out upon such doctrine as this ! Away with such 
presumptuous deprivation of the Church of the 
precious legacy left her by her ascended Lord ! 
I will not for a moment regard that as wrong and 
dangerous which the Lord himself hath pro 
nounced blessed. Jesus knew what he was about 
when he sent this book to be shown unto his ser 
vants. He understood . his own words when he 
said and repeated : Blessed is he that reads and 
he that keeps what is in this book. And I will 
insist that it is to be studied. As Christ said to 
the writer of it, so he says to all his ministers, and 
all his people, in all time : " SEAL NOT THE SAYINGS 
book, and meant to be ever kept open to the view 
of the Church from that time forward to the end. 
Woe, then, to the man who undertakes to draw 
away God s people from it, or to warn them 
against looking into it! He takes from the 
Church, which has now been these 2000 years 
among the dashing waves, the chart by which 
above all Christ meant she should be guided, and 
wherein she may best see whither she is bearing, 
what are her perils, and where her course of safety 
lies ! He undertakes to seal what God has said 
should not be sealed ! He not only " takes away 
from the words of the book of this prophecy," 


(wliich who does, " God shall take away hia part 
out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, 
and from the things which are written in this 
book,") but seeks to take away the book itself! 

And the more dangerous and reprehensible is 
such a course, now that " the time is near." 
Nearly two thousand years ago, it was said of the 
things herein written, that they must speedily 
come to pass. These records were from the first 
pressed upon the study of the Church by the 
solemn consideration that the period of their ful 
filment was rapidly approaching. But if this 
argument was of force then, how much more now ? 

Standing, then, as we do, upon the very margin 
of the great Apocalypse, by all the solemnities 
with which it is to be accompanied, I not only in 
vite and recommend, but conjure Christians, as 
they hope to be present at the marriage supper of 
the Lamb, not to put this precious book from 
them, or to forego the faithful study of its con 

The Lord open our hearts to its teachings, and 
make us partakers of the blessings it foretells ! 




RKV. CHAP. 1 : 4-8 (Revised Text). John to the seven churches in 
Asia, Grace unto you and peace, from Him who is, and who wae, and 
who is ,to come, and from the seven Spirits which [are] before his 
throne, and from Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, The First-born 
of the dead, and The Prince of the kings of the earth. 

Unto Him that loves us, and freed us from our sins by his own 
blood, and hath made us a kingdom, priests unto Him who is his 
God and Father ; to Him be glory and dominion unto the ages. 

Behold, he cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see him, 
and they which pierced him, and all the tribes of the land shall 
mourn about him. Even BO ; Amen. 

I am Alpha and Omega, saith the Lord God, who is, and who was, 
and who is to come, the Almighty. 

THERE is not another book of holy scripture 
which opens with so much special remark and 
solemnity. There is everything here to impress 
the belief, that there is not another so profoundly 
important, or meant to be studied with such par 
ticular care and seriousness. We have had before 
us the impressive account of itself with which this 



marvellous book opens. The text is a special 
additional preface, by John, which will be quite 
sufficient to occupy us to-night. Strictly, it is no 
part of the Apocalypse. It has proceeded from 
the same Spirit, and is in a measure anticipative 
of its contents ; but it deals more with the writer s 
personal feelings, than with any features of the 
grand message itself. It is the mere prelude to 
the piece the apostolic overture to the Revelation 
of Christ. But, it is a magnificent introduction. 
Though marked with the frequent sententious 
abruptness of this apostle s writings, there is not, 
in all human literature, a more sublime or appro 
priate opening. Separating it into its several 
parts, I find 


Having carefully surveyed these, we shall have 
comprehensively explored the whole text. May 
the Lord aid us in the attempt, and fill us with 
the Spirit of him whose words we are to consider 

As to the Salutation, we may note first that 
Christianity is courteous. It enlivens all kindly 
feelings, and prompts to every gentle amenity 
from one to another. There is no refinement of 
manner, or polish of feeling and behavior, which 
it does not foster. Coarseness and vulgarity have 
no place in the domain of genuine piety. He who 
apeaka in the text was bred in humble life, but, by 

LECTURE II. CHAP. 1:4-8. 41 

the exalting power of the gospel which he preach 
ed, he was raised into a courtliness of tone and 
temper, as sincere as it was lovely. He does not 
venture to deliver his great message to the Church 
es without first declaring his own kind wishes 
towards them. Though a high officer, and ad 
dressing persons of much inferior estate to him 
self, his loving heart begins with the pouring out 
of gracious affection, sympathy and benediction. 
By apostolic example, then, as well as by apostolic 
precept, we are taught to be kindly affectioned 
one toward another, and to be courteous to all 

This gracious Salutation is addressed " to the 
seven Churches in Asia." We sometimes speak 
of " the Church" in its entire collective capacity, 
as if it were but one body. And such it really is 
in its source, head, faith and sacraments, but not 
in its earthly organization. We also speak of the 
Church of a particular country or denomination ; 
and not improperly when we wish to designate 
clusters of Churches of particular and distinctive 
type, or regime, or geographical contiguity. But 
the Scriptures express themselves differently. 
They do not contemplate the Christians of so many 
countries or confessions, as so many Churches ; 
but find a Church in every individual congrega 
tion, having its own minister, elders and deacons, 
without regard to any corporation other than 
itself. " Asia" is a large district of country, lying 
on the north of the Mediterranean, east of the outlet 
of the Euxine. It had but one general govern- 


ment at the time. But the Apocalypse does not 
speak of the collective body of Christians on that 
territory as "the Church of Asia." They were 
organized into distinct congregations in the seve 
ral towns and cities, and these separate and in 
dependent assemblies are spoken of as so many 
" Churches." They are addressed singly as " the 
Churches which are in Asia," such as " the Church 
in Ephesus," " the Church in Smyrna," " the 
Church in Pergamos," &c. The ecclesiastical 
unit is, therefore, to be reckoned from the local 
assembly under one minister, and such helpers as 
may be grouped around him, in the acknowledg 
ment and the administration of the commands of 
Christ. These several units, or any number of 
them, may lawfully join together in other and 
more general organizations and administrations, 
but never so as to ignore or supersede the proper 
churchly character of each without regard to the 
rest. The original order of the Church, as the 
apostles founded it, and as they addressed and 
left it, is congregational And every system which 
obliterates that order, in so far departs from what 
God and his inspired servants have authorized and 
ordained. John knew of no Churches but the 
individual congregations, however they might 
voluntarily come together for mutual counsel and 
general edification. 

Note also the style and substance of this Salu 
tation. Such addresses were common in the 
intercourse of the ancients. Their writers were 
accustomed to wish to their readers every good 

LECTURE II. CHAP. 1:4-8. 43 

arid prosperity. The Egyptian steward greeted the 
Hebrew strangers with the words "Peace be to 
you." The Assyrian King headed his royal pro 
clamation with " Peace be multiplied unto you." 
And David sent to Nabal saying : " Peace be to 
thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace je 
unto all that thou hast." The like may be heard 
to this day, in the common salutations of the 
people of those lands. But never did Jew or 
Gentile give such a salutation as this. It is not 
the ordinary prosperity of the world which is here 
bespoken, but something infinitely higher. John 
wishes the Churches "peace" indeed, but a peace 
preceded by, and rooted in " Grace." Ko one, in 
his right mind, -will despise the comforts and 
blessings of this life. They are all good and pre 
cious gifts of God, which are to be thankfully 
received and devoutly appropriated. But, what 
is all this world s prosperity if there be no peace 
with God, and no spiritual consolation in the con 
science ? Of what avail is it to pass brilliantly 
over the stage of time, only to sink forever in the 
darkness and sorrows of eternity! What we 
sinful beings need is Grace, and the peace which 
has its root in grace. " By the deeds of the law 
shall no man living be justified." There must be 
some outlet of Divine benignity by which we can 
be accepted notwithstanding these disabilities 
under the law. That outlet has been found in 
the Gospel, which publishes absolution and eternal 
life on the simple condition of faith. And this 
is that " Grace" of which the apostle speaks, and 


by which Paul declares Christians tc be saved 
It is God s favor to us in Christ Jesus, notwith 
standing our fallen condition. It is the forgive 
ness of sins, the inspiration of a new life, the 
renewal of the soul to holiness. It is the removal 
of God s wrath from us and our purgation from 
all enmity towards God, reconciliation and atone 
ment with our Maker, and full participation in all 
the blessings of his uninterrupted favor. It is 
justification, and all the peace with God, and in 
our own hearts and estate, resulting from justifi 
cation. In other words, what the apostle here 
bespeaks upon the Churches is, the entire fulness 
of the blessing of the Gospel, in all its length and 
breadth and depth and height of consolation and 
eternal prosperity. 

Notice also the sources from which he implores 
all this. From man, no such blessings could 
come ; nor yet only from God as God, or from 
this or that person in the Godhead alone. The 
whole Deity in its mysterious and eternal Triunity 
is concerned in furnishing what is bespoken. It 
is first of all "/row Him which is, and which was, 
and which is to come; 7 that is, from the Absolute 
One, who knows no change, no dependence on 
time or place, but to whom the present, the past, 
and the future are one and the same eternal now ; 
who is, and who was, and who is to be, even the 
infinite, incomprehensible, unapproachable Father 
of lights, from whom cometh every good and 
every perfect gift, and with whom is neither 
Tariableness, nor the least shadow of turning. 

LECTURE II. CHAP. 1:4-8. 45 

Hence the joyful thanksgiving, u Blessed be the 
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, 
according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten 
us again unto a lively hope." 

In the next place it is "from the seven Spirits 
which are before his throne;" that is, from the Holy 
Ghost, in the full completeness of his office and 
powers, as sent forth for the illumination, comfort 
and edification of all the subjects of God s redeem 
ing grace. " Seven" is the number of dispensa- 
tional fulness and perfection; and as there are 
seven Churches, making the one Church, so there 
are "the seven Spirits of God," making up the 
completeness of the one gracious administration 
of the Holy Ghost. "Before the throne; 1 that is, 
connected with the throne, and fulfilling the pur 
poses of Him who sits upon the throne. The 
Holy Ghost is one sent. (Jno. 14 : 26.) He goeth 
forth from the throne, and serves in behalf of the 
throne. He is God himself imparted to work in 
his elect the good pleasure of his own will, making 
his grace availing in them and for them,^filling 
them with " all peace and joy in believing," help 
ing their infirmities, witnessing to their adoption, 
and carrying into efiect all the divine administra 
tions of the kingdom of grace. 

But there is a third, from whom these great 
blessings are implored -"from Jesus Christ." 
There is neither grace nor peace for man, except 
through Christ. He is the stone which was set at 
naught by the builders, who is become the head 
of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any 


other; for there is none other name under heaven 
given among men whereby we must be saved. 
(Acts 4:11,12.) If God the Father hath begotten 
us again to a lively hope, it is only " by the resur 
rection of Jesus Christ from the dead." If we 
now have liberty to enter into the holiest, it is only 
"by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, 
which he hath consecrated for us, through the 
veil, that is to say, his flesh." (lleb. 10 : 19, 20.) 
And if there cometh to us peace, it is because 
"this man is our peace," and standeth and fcedeth 
in the strength of the Lord, and in the majesty of 
the name of the Lord his God. (Micah 5 : 4, 5.) 

And as three titles are given to each of the 
other sources of grace and peace to the Churches, 
three are also given to Christ. If the eternal Fa 
ther is He which is, arid which was, and which is 
to come; if the Holy Ghost is spirit, sevenfold, 
and before the throne: Jesus Christ is " the faith 
ful witness, the jirsl-bom of the dead, and the Prince 
of the kings of the earth." Isaiah prophesied of 
him as " A witness to the peoples : a leader and 
commander of the peoples." God said of him, 
" I will make him my first-born, higher than the 
kings of the earth," and his throne " as a faithful 
witness in heaven." (Is. 55 : 4; Ps. 89 : 27. 37.) 
And as was predicted, so it, has come to pass. 
" To this end was I born," says he, " and for this 
cause came I into the world, that I should bear 
witness unto the truth." Having died a martyr 
to his testimony, and given his life an offering for 
sin, he was restored to life again, as all the Scrip- 

LECTURE IL CHAP. 1:4-8. 47 

tares witness, and became "the first fruits of the 
resurrection," "the first-born from the dead." 
And having been " faithful unto death," Godhath 
exalted him, far above all principalities and pow 
ers, that at his name every knee should bow, and 
every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to 
the glory of God the Father. 

Conceive of these three, then, as one Almighty 
and ineffable Godhead, the Father in the abso 
luteness of his unchanging nature and universal 
presence, the Spirit in all the completeness of his 
manifold energies and diversified operations, and 
the Son in the virtues of his blood-sealed testimony, 
of the new begotten power of his resurrection, and 
of the super-royal administrations of his eternal 
kinghood, each in his place, and all as one, laid 
under contribution, and unreservedly and irrevo 
cably pledged, for the blessedness of them that 
believe; sound the depths of such a fountain of 
good; test the firmness of such a basis of confi 
denee; survey the strength and majesty of such a 
refuge for the soul ; weigh the treasures of bliss 
which are opened up in such a presentation ; and 
you may begin to form some conception of the 
resources of the saints, and of the real breadth 
and joyousness of this apostolic Salutation to the 
Churches. Is it any wonder that John s heart took 
fire at the contemplation, or that he should ab 
ruptly pass from affectionate greeting to jubilant 
doxology ? Surely "the name of the Lord is a 
strong tower : the righteous runneth into it, aud 
is set on high." 


II. Let us look, then, for a few moments at this 
exultant Ascription. He does not even name the 
object of it. He seems for the time to be so 
bewildered among the glories of the Godhead as 
not to distinguish whether but one, or three, are 
embraced in his joyous adoration. He speaks of 
One who loves, and one who atones, and one who 
renders this love and atonement effective to our 
deliverance and exultation ; and yet includes the 
three in one, giving glory and dominion forever and 
ever unto Him that loves us, and freed us from our 
sins by his own blood, and made us a kingdom, 
priests unto his Father and his God. But before 
he completes the sentence, his rapt heart settles 
upon Him alone whose Apocalypse he is about to 
unfold. A higher testimony to the proper Deity 
of Christ could not well be given. He also runs 
together the present, the past, and the future in 
the same conception, as in the previous descrip 
tion of God himself. He speaks of an exercise of 
Divine love, which now is (fyaK&vTi, loves; not 
fyamjffavrt, loved) ; of a cleansing by blood, which 
has taken place ; and of a regeney and priestly 
dignity which remains to be realized in its fulness 
hereafter. All these are embraced in the grace 
and peace of which he had just spoken, and each 
separately, as well as all conjointly, is made the 
subject of sublime praise to Him from whom it 
proceeds. Observe the particular specifications. 

The ever adorable One " loves us." We are 
apt to think of the great love of God as past; 
as having spent its greatest force, and reached its 

LECTURE II. CHAP. 1:4-8. 49 

highest culmination, when he gave his only be 
gotten Son to humiliation and death in our behalf. 
But in this we are mistaken. That love is a pre 
sent love, and in as full force at this moment as 
when it delivered up Jesus to the horrors which 
overwhelmed him on the cross, l^ay, the greatest 
stress and perfection of it is in exercise now, being 
the more intensified by reason of what was there 
so meekly endured for us. That was a love for 
enemies ; what must it then be for friends ? That 
was for man in his unloveliness and sins; what 
must it then be for those who have been washed 
from their sins, and clothed in all the heavenly 
beauty of the Saviour s righteousness? That was 
a love for the self-ruined and the lost, without 
claim upon Divine compassion ; what must it then 
be to the redeemed, who are recommended by 
all the worth and claims of the sinlessness, and 
unswerving obedience, and high Divinity of 
Christ? Oh, the breadth, the length, the depth, 
the height, of the love of Christ ! Who shall 
measure it? Who can comprehend it? It en 
compasses us like a shoreless, bottomless sea. It 
passeth knowledge. It transcends all thought. 
And it is in full force now, to make us forever 
blessed. Alas, what Doxology is strong enough 
adequately to acknowledge it ? 

" And freed ILS from our sins by his own blood." 
We are prone to overlook this as an accomplished 
fact As we refer the height of the Divine love 
and compassion to the past, and so diminish the 
comfort which belongs to us from it as a present 
VOL. i. 4 


reality ; so we are too apt to refer our absolution 
in Christ s blood to some future attainment, and 
to hold back from the proper appropriation of its 
virtue except as connected with certain works or 
experiences of our own. In both instances we 
are grievously at fault. As God s great love, in 
all its fulness, is a present love ; so our absolution 
through the blood of Christ is a past absolution. 
We have not to wait and work to be forgiven. 
The work has long since been done. The decree 
went forth, the releasing word was spoken, the 
forgiveness was declared, when Jesus left his 
tomb ; and all that any man has to do on that sub 
ject is to believe it, and to appropriate to himself 
the glorious reprieve. What saith the Scripture ? 
" God sent not his Son into the world to condemn 
fche world, but that the world through him might 
be saved. He that believeth on him is not con 
demned." (Jno. 3 : 17, 18.) What of " the hand 
writing of ordinances that was against us, which 
was contrary to us ?" Has not Jesus long since 
entirely disposed of it ? Does not the apostle tes 
tify that He hath blotted it out, and taken it out 
of the way, nailing it to his cross? (Col. 2 : 14.) 
Is it not written, that " there is now therefore no 
condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, 
who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ?" 
(Bom. 8:1.) And in the light of passages like 
these, I should stultify the message which God has 
given me to deliver, and detract from the richness 
of that Gospel which I am ordained to preach, if 
I did not come to you with the blessed announce- 

LECTURE II. CHAP. 1:4-8. 5} 

ment of a pardon already passed, and a complete 
absolution already spoken, for all yonr sins, how 
ever many or deep-dyed, on the simple condition 
that you but believe my word, and take the assu 
rance to your souls. And we live beneath our 
privilege and fail to make the required use of the 
great expiation which has been wrought, and want 
in proper appreciation of our Saviour s work, if 
we do not rise up from our prostration under the 
law, and cast from us forever the whole burden of 
its condemnation. Can you not feel, even as I 
pronounce these words, the starting pulsations of 
that life of freedom which flows down to us from 
Calvary s cross ? Can you not this moment look 
back to that mysterious and all-availing immola 
tion of the Son of God, and believe that it was 
the taking away of your guilt, even yours ? O 
my downcast, sorrowing brother, look, look, at 
that scene of sacred bloodshedding ; weigh the 
virtues of that expiation ; fathom the depths of its 
power ; realize the blessedness of its efficacy ; be 
hold in that day of atonement the incoming of thy 
year of jubilee, breaking thy bonds, returning to 
thee thy lost estate, restoring thee to thy unfallen 
Mends; and see if there be not cause for some 
Miriam s song of triumph some reason for thee 
to join in this joyous doxology. 

"And made us a kingdom priests unto his God 
and father." The glory brightens as the account 
proceeds. That we should have a place in the 
affectionate regard, and tender, effective love of 
the great Lord, is much. That we should have 


forgiveness for all our sins, made perfect by Ma 
free grace at the cost of his own life s blood, Is 
almost too much for belief. But, to affection is 
added honor, and to salvation, official dignities. 
We are not only loved, and freed from our sins, 
but, if indeed we are Christians, we are princes 
and priests, named arid anointed for immortal re 
gencies and eternal priesthoods. Let men despise 
and contemn religion as they may, there is empire 
connecting with lowly discipleship, royalty with 
penitence and prayers, and sublime priesthood 
with piety. Fishermen and taxgatherers, by 
listening to Jesus, presently find themselves in 
apostolic thrones, and ministering as priests and 
rulers of a dispensation, wide as the world, and 
lasting as time. Moses, by his faith, rises from 
Jethro s sheepfold to be the prince of Israel ; and 
Daniel, from the den of condemnation and death, 
to the honor and authority of empire ; and Luther, 
from his cell, to dictate to kings and rule the 
ages. There is not a believer, however obscure 
or humble, who may not rejoice in princely blood, 
who does not already wield a power which the 
potencies of hell cannot withstand, and who is 
not on the way to possess eternal priesthood and 

Consider, then, what is embraced in the priestly 
reign of the saints in the ages to come, " what 
untried forms of happy being, what cycles of 
revolving bliss," are before us in those high 
spheres, what sceptres are to be wielded and 
what altars served amid the sublimities of our im- 

LECTURE II. CHAP. 1:4-8. 53 

mortal destiny, what streams of ascending in 
fluence shall concentrate in those holy adminis 
trations, letting forth God to his creatures, and 
guiding the adoration of realms unknown as yet 
to the unsearchable bosom of the invisible God; 
and who that believes does not feel his heart 
stirred to its profoundest depths, and the devout 
ascription of " glory and dominion forever and 
ever" rising unbidden to his lips, unto Him who 
so loved us, and has done such great things for 
us ? " Oh, that men would praise the Lord for 
his goodness, and for his wonderful works toward 
tne Children of men !" 

HI. But we pass to another topic, in which we 
find a pre-eminently solemn prophetic Allusion. 
The mention of these kinghoods and priesthoods 
of the saints, and the glory and eternal dominion 
of Christ, suggests an occurrence which must 
precede the full realization of these things, both 
for Christ and his people. And, with his soul on 
fire with these sublime contemplations, thirsting 
for the great consummation, and running over 
with interest in the tidings which he was about 
to communicate, the loving apostle seems to have 
felt as if the grand climacteric of time had come : 
" Behold he cometh with the clouds ; and every 
eye shall see him, and they which pierced him : 
and all tribes of the land shall mourn about him. 
Even so. Amen." 

Again he omits to mention the name of Him 
of whom he is speaking. There is, however no 
room for mistake. This comine One is the 


who freed us from our sins by his own blood, and 
who is to have glory and dominion forever and 
ever. John was present when that blessed One 
left the earth. He had heard the angels say : " Ye 
men of Galilee, this same Jesus, which is taken 
up from you into heaven, shall so come in like 
manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." 
(Acts 1 : 11.) He had seen how " a cloud re 
ceived him out of their sight," and thenceforward 
carried in his memory what the words of the 
angels authorized him to regard as a picture of 
something in the future to which he ever looked 
with the profoundest interest. And all the stu 
pendous visions of the Apocalypse did not for one 
moment disturb that picture, or divert his mind 
from it. However variously he may have been 
moved, as scene followed scene in the great exhi 
bition of the Divine purpose, the key-note to which 
he ever returned was the coming and kingdom 
of that ascended Lord. Even in all the long 
course of unending ages, that upon which his 
thoughts most firmly fastened was, the coming 
again of the Lord Jesus. "With this he begins ; 
with this he continues ; and with this he ends. 
But let us separate his words a little, and look at 
their several implications individually. 

" He cometh." Here is the great fact unequivo 
cally stated. Christ has not gone to heaven to 
stay there. He has gone for his Church s benefit ; 
and for his Church s benefit he will return again ; 
not in spirit only, not in providence only, not in 
the mere removal of men by death, but in his own 

LECTURE II. CHAP. 1:4-8. 55 

proper person, as " the Son of man." Few believe 
this, and still fewer lay it to heart. Many sneer 
at the very idea, and would fain laugh down the 
people who are so simple as to entertain it. But 
it is nevertheless the immutable truth of God, 
predicted by all his prophets, promised by Christ 
himself, confirmed by the testimony of angels, 
proclaimed by all the apostles, believed by all the 
early Christians, acknowledged in all the Church 
Creeds, sung of in all the Church Hymn-books, 
prayed about in all the Church Liturgies, and en 
tering so essentially into the very life and substance 
of Christianity, that without it there is no Chris 
tianity, except a few maimed and mutilated relics 
too powerless to be worth the trouble or expense 
of preservation. That religion which does not 
look for a returning Saviour, or locate its highest 
hopes and triumphs in the judgment scenes for 
which the Son of man must reappear, is not the 
religion of this book, and is without authority to 
promise salvation to its devotees. And those 
addresses to the Churches which have no "Behold 
he cometh" pervading or underlying them, have 
not been indited by " the Seven Spirits of God," 
nor sent by Him whose Apocalypse is the crown 
of the inspired Canon. Murmur at it, dispute it, 
despise it, mock at it, put it aside, hate it, and 
hide from it, as men may, it is a great fundamen 
tal article of the Gospel, that that same blessed 
Lord, who ascended from Mount Olivet, and is 
now at the right hand of God the Father Al 
mighty, shall come from tnence to judge the quick 


and the dead, and to stand again on that very 
summit from which he went up. This is true, 
as Christ himself is true ; and " he that hath 
an ear to hear, let him hear." Amen. 

" He cometh with the clouds" Here is the great 
characteristic in the manner of his coming. 
" With the. clouds" that is, in majesty and glory; 
with the awful pomp and splendor of Him "who 
maketh the clouds his chariot : who walketh upon 
the wings of the wind." 

" And every eye shall see him" Here is the pub 
licity of the sublime event. It is not said that all 
shall see him at the same time, or in the same 
scene, or with the same feelings. Other passages 
teach us that some eyes will see him whilst he is 
yet to others invisible ; and that he will be mani 
fested to some at one time and place, and to others 
at other times and places, and in different acts of 
the wonderful drama. But, somewhere, at some 
time, in some stage of his judicial administrations, 
there never has been and never will be that hu 
man being who shall not see him. To every one 
that has lived, and to every one who shall live, he 
will show himself, and compel every eye to meet 
his eye. The dead shall be brought to life again, 
and shall see him, and the living shall see him. 
The good shall see him, and the wicked shall see 
him. Some shall see him and shout : " Lo, this 
is our God ; we have waited for him, and he will 
save us : this is the LORD ; we have waited for him, 
we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation ;" and 
others shall see him and cry to " the mountains 

LECTURE II. CHAP. 1:4-8. 57 

and rocks : Fall on us, and hide us from the face 
of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the 
wrath of the Lamb ; for the great day of his 
wrath is come ; and who shall be able to stand?" 

" And they which pierced him." Though his mani 
festation shall be absolutely universal, it has an 
awful distinction with reference to some. Of all 
beings who shall then wish to be saved that sight 
will be those who murdered him. But they shall 
not escape it. They must each and all some day 
confront him, and meet his all-penetrating gaze. 
From the wretched man who betrayed him, down 
to the soldier who pierced his side, and all who 
have made common cause with them in wrong 
ing, persecuting, wounding and insulting that 
meek Lamb of God, shall then be compelled to 
face his judgment-seat, and to look upon him 
whom they have pierced. 

" And all the tribes of the land shall mourn about 
him." Is not this a special word for the Jews? 
Is it not an allusion to a wail of penitence which 
shall be elicited from long apostate Israel, when 
they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, 
and doubt of his messiahship no more ? Does it 
not refer to the fulfilment of Zechariah 12 : 10, 
where the house of David and the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem shall mourn for him, as one inounieth 
for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him 
as one is in bitterness for his first-born? Oh, 
the intensity of that bitterness ! Brethren, I do 
not wonder that worldlings and half- Christians 
have no love for this doctrine, or that they hate 


to hear about Christ s speedy coming, it is 
the deathknell of their gayeties aiid pleasures 
the turning of their confidence to consterna 
tion the conversion of their songs to shrieks 
of horror and despair. There is a day coming, 
when " the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, 
and the haughtiness of man shall be made low:" 
when there shall be "upon the earth distress of 
nations, with perplexity;" when " all the tribes 
of the earth shall mourn;" when men shall "go 
into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of 
the earth," u into the clefts of the rocks, and into 
the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, 
and for the glory of his majesty ;" when men 
" shall seek death, and shall not find it ; and shall 
desire to die, and death shall nee from them." 
And that day is the day of Christ s coming, and 
those dismayed ones are such as love not his ap 
pearing. Fear and dread shall fall upon the 
wicked; trouble and anguish shall make them 
afraid ; and men s hearts shall fail them for fear, 
and for looking after those things that are coming 
on the earth. The saints will then have been 
caught away to their Lord. From the same field, 
the same shop, the same bed, one shall have been 
taken and the other left. And on those remain 
ing ones, who had not watched, neither kept 
their garments, nor made themselves ready, shall 
the terrors of judgment fall, and not a family or 
tribe of all that live shall escape. 

" Even so, Amen." Some take this as the seal 
and ratification of the solemn truths which have 

LECTURE II. CHAP 1:4-8. 59 

just been uttered. If this be the true meaning, 
what particular stress is to be laid upon these 
things how sure to come to pass how unmis 
takably certain ! Brethren, it does seem to me, 
when I look at the Scriptures on this subject, that 
even the best of us are not half awake. May God 
arouse us by his Spirit, and not permit us to sleep 
till the thunders and terrors of the great day are 
upon us ! But I find another and more natural 
sense of these words. I find in them John s ac 
quiescence in all that the great day is to bring, 
and his prayer, as repeated at the end of the book, 
that the Lord would hasten its coming. Terrible 
as it will be to the wicked, and the unprepared, 
and those who refuse the warnings which we give 
them, it is a precious day to the saints, a day to be 
coveted, and to be prayed for with all earnestness 
of desire. The poor faint-hearted Christianity of 
our times can hardly contemplate it without trem 
bling and annoyance. Many who profess and call 
themselves Christians would rather not hear about 
it, and would prefer, if they had their choice, that 
Christ might never come. It was not so in the 
days of Christianity s pristine vigor. Then the 
anxious inquiry of disciples was, " Tell us, when 
shall these things be ? and what shall be the sign 
of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" 
"Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the Kingdom 
to Israel?" Then Christians wrote to each other 
in joyous congratulation, that their citizenship was 
in heaven, whence they looked for the coming of 
the Saviour ; and comforted one another in the 


assurance that the Lord himself is to descend from 
heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch 
angel, and with the trump of God ; and, as 
directed by their Lord, lifted up their heads, and 
looked up with joyful hope at every turn in 
human affairs which they could by any means 
construe into a probable herald of his nearing 
epiphany. Then the prayer, " Thy Kingdom 
come," had a depth of meaning and lively antici 
pation which now has well-riigh been lost. Then 
" the appearing of Jesus Christ" had a power over 
the soul which made it " rejoice with joy unspeak 
able and full of glory;" and the most earnest and 
constant call of apostles and their followers was, 
" Come, Lord Jesus ; come quickly. Even so. 
Amen." Nor can the Church ever be her true 
self, or enter into the true spirit of her faith, or 
rise to the true sublimity of her hope, where this 
is not the highest object of her deepest desire. 
For how, indeed, can we regard ourselves as 
rightly planted upon the apostolic foundation, if 
we cannot join with heart and soul in this apostolic 
prayer ? 

IV. To all this, the apostle yet adds a most de 
vout reference to Christ, and to Christ s declara 
tion concerning himself, the further to confirm 
the solemn truthfulness of his words, and to incite 
ug to lay the more stress upon them. 

Great things, and, to human reason, very im 
probable things, were upon his mind, and about 
to be submitted to the Churches. Their import 
ance, and the predisposition on the part of mer* to 

LECTURE II. CHAP. 1:4-8. 61 

disregard them, seemed to call for some especial 
pledge of the likelihood and certainty of their ac 
complishment. And that pledge he gives by 
devoutly referring everything to that omniscient, 
eternal and almighty Being, whose Apocalypse he 
was commissioned to describe. He invokes the 
Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end 
ing, He who was, and is, and is to come, the 
Almighty, as his judge in these utterances, to 
whom also he leaves the fulfilment of all that had 
been given him to write. It was as much as to 
say, if this was not a faithful and honest declara 
tion of his inmost feelings and belief, and a true 
account of what he had seen and heard, such is 
the majesty of the Being who is to deal with him 
for it ; and that, if there be any unlikelihoods in 
these things, such is the character of Him from 
whom he has received them, and to whom he 
refers for the power to make good his words. 

And how sublime is the majesty of our blessed 
Kedeemer as thus set forth ! Never before had 
he given such an account of himself. He had in 
timated as much, and permitted his apostles to 
use language which implied the same. But never 
till in this Apocalypse had he formally assumed 
to himself such Divine majesty. He here pro 
claims Himself to be The Almighty, the very 
God, the One existing before anything was made, 
comprehending all things in His own existence, 
and possessing immensity and eternity. Look a 
moment at the particulars. 

" / am Alpha, and Omega." These are the name* 


of the letters which begin and end the Greek 
alphabet. It is the same as if it were said in Eng 
lish, u I ain A and Z." That is, our Saviour 
claims to be what letters and language were 
meant to be, namely the expression of truth. He 
is THE WORD the embodiment of all Divine 
verities from first to last. God is a Spirit an in 
visible, incorporeal, intangible, unapproachable 
Spirit. But that hidden and unsearchable Mind 
may be expressed, may let itself forth in compre 
hensible utterance. And that expression, that 
utterance of invisible Godhead is Jesus Christ 
the Divine Wisdom the onl} communication 
from the absolute to the created. 

" The beginning and the ending" This is not 
found in some of the oldest and best copies of this 
book. It was, perhaps, introduced merely as an 
explanation of the clause going before it. It does 
not seern to convey any additional thought. He 
ig the first, because all things took their be 
ginning from him; and he is the last, because 
in him shall all things have their consummation. 
But what follows is unmistakably genuine. 

" Who is, and who was, and who is to come" 
This sublime form of speech is used to describe 
the Eternal Father; but it belongs equally to the 
Son. lie is the I AM, whose being is the same 
through till reckonings of time. As the Father 
existe in all the past, present, and future, eternal 
and unchangeable ; so Christ, who is the express 
image of the Father, is " the same, yesterday, to 
day, *nd forever." He was with the Father 

LECTURE II. CHAP. 1:4-8. g$ 

before the world was. He is now at the right 
hand of the Father. And he is to come in the 
name and the glory of the Father in those eternal 
administrations which are the joy and hope of his 

" The Almighty." Than this there is no higher 
name. It declares the complete and unqualified 
subjection of all created things to our Lord Jesus 
Christ. It leaves nothing which is not put under 
Him. Oh, the adorableness and majesty of our 
Eedeemer ! Who could play false in such a pres 
ence? What son of Belial may escape righteous 
retribution in such hands ? What untruthfulness 
can there be in such a Being ? What lack for the 
full performance of all the will and purpose of One 
with such characteristics ! Rather than give way 
to doubt and unbelief, let us fall down in lowly 
adoration at his feet, take His truth, and rejoice 
in Him as our hope and our everlasting conso 

But, I must conclude these observations for the 
present. The Apostolic prelude to this solemn 
book is sufficiently before us to be made of great 
spiritual profit. Let us see to it that we do not 
fail to realize that advantage which it is intended 
and so well fitted to impart. Here is grace and 
peace from the Triune God spoken for our accept 
ance ; let us see to it that we do not receive the 
inspired salutation in vain. Here is a glorious 
celebration of an accomplished absolution, an ex 
isting love, and sublime endowments, all made ours 
in Christ Jesus ; let us make sure that our hearts 


are in tune to the same lofty song. Here is an 
apostolic admonition to direct our most earnest 
thoughts to the personal return of our Lord, which 
is to be so dreadful to the unready and so joyoue 
to them that watch and pray ; let us make it our 
business to be properly exercised in that " Behold. " 
Here also we are referred to the ineffable great 
ness and Divinity of our Redeemer and Judge ; 
and let us beware how we trifle with his word, 
question his power, or dash ourselves against his 

And "unto Him that loves us, and freed us 
from our sins by his own blood, and hath made 
us a kingdom priests unto Him who is his God 
and Father; to Him be glory and dominion unto 
the ages. Amen." 



REV. CHAP. 1 : 9-17. (Revised Text.) I, John, your brother and 
copartner in the tribulation, and the kingdom, and the patient 
waiting, in Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, on ac 
count of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. I became 
in Spirit in the Lord s day ; and I heard behind me a great voice, as 
of a trumpet, saying, ["I am Alpha and Omega," Ac., is here without 
due authority] What thon feest, write in a book, and send it to the 
seven Churches : to Ephesw, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and 
to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea. 

And I turned about to see the voice that was speaking with me, 
and, being turned, I saw seven candlesticks [latnpstands or lamps] of 
gold ; and in the midst f the seven candlesticks [one] like to the 8*a 
of man, clothed La a loag garment reaching to the fet, and girt at the 
breasts with a girdle t>f gold. His kead and his hairs [were] whitt, as 
white wool, ai mow, and hL *y*s a* a flame of fire, and his feet like 
fine brass glowing with fire a? in a furnace ; and his voice aa the voice 
of many waters ; and he h<l in his right hand seven stars ; and pro- 
icc-ding out of his mouth H eharp two-edged sword ,- and his counte 
nance a* tbe sun ehineth in his strength. 

And wke I SAW him, 1 fell at his feet as dead. Aad he laid his 
Tight hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not. 

VOL. I. 5 ($6) 


WE now approach the Apocalypse proper. 
Hitherto we have only been considering 
superscriptions and prefaces. Henceforward we 
have to deal with the thing itself. 

Those acquainted with the contents of this 
remarkable book are aware, that it is made up of 
several distinct scenes or acts. The first gives us 
the Apocalypse of Christ in his relation to his 
Churches on earth, and his judgment of them. 
The second gives us the Apocalypse of Christ in 
his relation to the Church in heaven, or his glori 
fied Church, and the scenes into which the saints 
are introduced after they are caught up from the 
earth. The third gives us the Apocalypse of 
Christ in his relation to the world, and his admin 
istrations of retribution to the nations. And so 
on, till we see everything settled in the excellencies 
of the new heavens and the new earth. We have 
to do now only with the first, which extends to 
the close of the third chapter. It consists of two 
leading parts : first, a magnificent vision of the 
Saviour, with some circumstantial particulars and 
explanations ; and second, seven epistles, descrip 
tive of character, and how it fares in the solemn 
judgment. It is the first part of this first act that 
I propose now to consider ; that is, THE VISION. 




Lift up your hearts, then, unto the Lord, the 
giver of light and grace, that He may enable us 
rightly to conceive of these important matters. 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1:9-17. $7 

The seer of this vision was John. At the time 
of the vision, he was the only remaining apostle, 
and perhaps the only survivor of those with whom 
Christ had personally conversed. He was there 
fore the most interesting and exalted Christian 
then living upon the earth a most reverend and 
venerable man. 

But he was as humble and meek as he was high 
in place. He gives himself no titles. He says 
nothing of his sublime official relations. It was 
enough for him to put himself on a level with the 
common brotherhood of believers. Whatever 
may be our gifts and stations, we are all one in 
Christ Jesus. The high and the low, the rich and 
poor, the bond and free, those who have known 
the Saviour after the flesh, and those who have 
seen him only with the eye of faith, are all brethren 
together, children of one Father, servants of the 
same Lord, and fellow-heirs to the same hopes and 
inheritance. He was the inspired teacher of those 
to whom he was writing. His words were to be 
to them a rule of faith and life. But, with all, 
he calls himself simply their "brother, and co 
partner in tribulation, and in the kingdom, and 
in the patient waiting, in Christ Jesus. " 

And in this statement he brings out what were 
the chief characteristics of the Christian confession 
in those days; namely, a common brotherhood in 
Christ, a common suffering for Christ, a common 
royalty and kingship as yet unrevealed, and a 
common hopeful and patient waitwig for the time 
of blessed coronation, and joyous entrance with 


the Lord upon the dominion of the world. The 
same may serve to show in how far our Christi 
anity answers to the Christianity of the Apostles 
days, and to assure us that, in so far as these 
characteristics appear in us, we are the brethren 
of Apostles, and partakers in the same fellowship 
with those who saw the miracles, heard the words, 
and waited about the steps of Him who now 
reigns in the highest heavens, and are also to 
reign with Him forever and ever. 

John was at the time in exile, upon a lonely and 
desolate island. But neither seas, nor Alps, nor 
ages, can sever the bonds by which Christians are 
united to each other, or to Christ, their Lord. 
Less than a year ago I passed that island. It is a 
mere mass of barren rocks, dark in color and 
cheerless in form. It lies out in the open sea, near 
the coast of Western Asia Minor. It has neither 
trees nor rivers, nor any land for cultivation, ex 
cept some little nooks between the ledges of rocks. 
There is still a dingy grotto remaining, in which 
the aged Apostle is said to have lived, and in 
which he is said to have had this vision. A 
chapel covers it, hung with lamps kept burning 
by the monks. He had been banished to this in 
hospitable place by the persecuting Roman gov 
ernment, not for crimes, but " for the word of God, 
and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." He was 
the acknowledged head of the witnesses of Jesus, 
and the great promulgator and defender of the 
truth as it is in Jesus, and for his zeal and promi 
nence in this, he was dealt with as a felon and an 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1:9-17. (59 

outlaw. The unconverted heart always has been, 
is now, and always will be, at enmity with God, 
and hence at disagreement with God s truth and 
people. It cannot endure what is not conformed 
to its views and tastes, and is full of malice, re 
sentment, and revenge towards everything which 
holds with God and with Christ. And if the 
world is at any time at peace, and on good terms 
with the Church, it is because the Church itself 
has become debauched, and has descended to 
a compromise to be at one with the wicked. The 
nominal Christian and the formalist the world 
cannot hate, for they are of it, and it will love its 
own ; but the Johns and Pauls must go into ban 
ishment, or give their necks to the stateblock. 

But the wrath of the wicked does but brir&g 
saints the nearer to the choice favors of God. 
The Patmos of persecuting Rome is to John the 
door of sublimest communion with heaven. The 
chains of resentful power may confine the body, 
but they cannot bind the soul. The Apostle, 
doomed to the isle of convicts, soars on the wings 
of prophetic ecstasy, traverses ages, and moves 
among the most stupendous administrations of the 
last day. Circumscribed in his natural life, he is 
lifted to a higher life. Shut out from this world, 
and estranged from earthly friends, he becomes 
conversant with one of spiritual realities, and is 
made to communicate with celestial orders. In 
solitude secluded, if not in some dungeon im 
mured, he is thrilled with visions and revelations 
of the Lord, " whose overpowering splendor that 


he might endure, whose great variety that he 
might remember and record, whose various places 
of representation that he might be transported to," 
the very conditions of his existence are trans 
formed, as in the case of Ezekiel on Chebar s 
banks, and as in the case of Paul caught up to 
Paradise, and hearing unspeakable words, not 
knowing whether he was in the body or out of 
the body. In a word, he was (ev meufiarC) IN SPIRIT 
in a condition wholly loosened from the earth 
transported by means of the Spirit, (ev rr t xuptaxy 
f)iif>a) INTO THE LORD S DAY stationed as a specta 
tor amid the very scenes of the great judgment 

In this state of prophetic exaltation, the first 
thing that arrested the Apostle s attention was, 
"a great voice as of a trumpet" When Q-od re 
vealed himself on Mount Sinai, he broke silence 
with the "voice of a trumpet, exceeding loud." 
When the service of the temple began in the 
morning, and the great door was opened, it was 
at the sound of the trumpet. When the year of 
Jubilee came round, it was ushered in by the 
sounding of the silver trumpet. And so when 
the silence of the tomb is to be broken, and the 
scattered children of God gathered for their re 
wards, it shall be with " the voice of the archangel 
and the trump of God :" " for the trumpet shall 
sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, 
and we shall be changed." And whilst the sound- 

* See First Discourse, pp. 20, 21. 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1:9-17. 71 

ing of the great trnmpet in this case was intended 
to fix the attention of the seer, and assure him of 
the Divinity of the Speaker and of the importance 
of what was to follow, and to give him his com 
mission with reference to this whole Apocalypse, 
I cannot disconnect it from the sounding of that 
very trump by which the blessed Lord, in the 
great day, will arouse, and call together his scat 
tered saints, and announce to them their everlast 
ing Jubilee. It summoned the Apostle, and it 
summons us, to the contemplation of the fact, that 
the great Apocalypse of our Saviour is to be pre 
ceded with the sound of " a great voice as of a 
trumpet." The godless world may not hear that 
voice ; but Apostles shall hear it ; and all who have 
place with them in the blessed brotherhood of 
suffering and patient waiting for Christ, whom 
John here represents, shall hear it; and they shall 
be transfigured when they hear it ; and mount up 
with wings like eagles to the open presence of 
their Lord. 

The instant John turned to " see the voice that 
spake with" him, he " saw seven golden candle 
sticks (or lampstands), and in the midst of the 
seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man." 
From the conclusion of the chapter, we learn that 
these " seven candlesticks are the seven Church 
es." In all languages, truth and knowledge are 
likened to light. The Psalmist speaks of God s 
word as a lamp to his feet and a light unto his 
path. And so the Churches are the lampstands, 
or light- bearers. They have no light in them- 


selves, but they hold forth and diffuse the light 
which they have from the oil of grace and the fire 
of the Spirit. Each Christian is alighted candle. 
And all God s children are described as " lights 
in the world, holding forth the word of life." It 
is therefore a most significant image by which the 
communities of saints are here set forth. They 
are as so many lampstands of God s light and 
truth in a world of darkness ; and as such Christ 
deals with them. 

These lampstands are gold composed of the 
costliest, the most precious, the most glorious, the 
royal, the sacred metal. A saint is an excellent, 
a glorious, a royal, in some sense a sacred being ; 
and a congregation of Christians is altogether the 
most precious thing on earth. It is the pure gold 
of the world. 

Seven is the number of completeness. It here 
designates the whole Christian body, of all times 
and all places. 

The " one like unto the Son of man," is Christ 
himself. He is described in the same way in the 
Psalms, in the visions of Daniel, and in his own 
discourses concerning himself. It is a form of 
speech meant to set forth the essential importance 
and prominence of the human element of the Sa 
viour s character ; for it is in his human nature 
that his redemption work is conducted, and his 
victories achieved. It is as the Son of man that 
he came, lived, suffered and died. It was as the 
Son of man that he rose from the dead, ascended 
into heaven, and will come again, judge the world, 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1:9-17. 73 

and set up his glorious everlasting rule. But he 
is not to be conceived of as nothing but a man. 
He is " one like unto the Son of man." This word 
like sets us upon the scent of something higher 
than humanity, though conditioned as humanity, 
and having everything in common with it. Thus 
we read of him as " made in the likeness of men," 

in all respects made like unto his brethren." 

This assumption of likeness to man, presupposes 
some modification of what properly is not human. 
And so we also read of him as The Word made 
flesh God manifested in the flesh the Son of 
God condescending to be the Son of man, not in 
appearance only, but in literal reality ; not for 
certain acts of humiliation only, but for glory and 
dominion as well ; not temporarily only, till a few 
facts are accomplished, then to return to what he 
was before the marvellous process began, but 
forever, as well throughout the unending dura 
tion of the results achieved as in the immediate 
mysteries of the passion which laid the foundation 
of these results. It is a mischievous error to sup 
pose that the Son of God s assumption of human 
nature was only for the immediate private end of 
redeeming fallen man a mere phenomenon in 
Godhead s ever busy administration a simple act 
the like of which may have been before, or may 
be again. It is the abiding miracle of eternity. 
It is, and was meant to be, a thing of abiding per 
manence, the eternal continuity of which is as 
vital to the everlasting future of the redeemed, 
and the great purposes of God, as the contin lity 


of creative power is to the preservation of the uni 
verse. To deny this, is to strip the Gospel of its 
chief glory, and to start on a path of heretical peril 
almost sure to end in utter shipwreck of the faith. 
Christ is " one like unto the Son of man," that is 
Godhead embodied in humanity, not only for 
what has transpired in the past, or is going on at 
present, or is to be enacted at the judgment, but 
also for the whole eternity of administrations ap 
pertaining to the saints, and to the race. And this 
Divine man is the great subject of this vision, es 
pecially in his relation to the Churches. John 
beholds him " in the midst of the seven candle 
sticks," and " the seven candlesticks are the seven 

Some have given out that it is simply in his 
character of Priest, that the Saviour appears in this 
vision. He is indeed a priest, even our great 
High Priest that has passed into the heavens ; but 
this is not his only character, nor expressive of his 
entire relation to the Churches. Neither is it the 
only or even the chief aspect in which he comes 
before us in this vision. There is no mitre, no 
ephod, no breastplate, no censer, no blood. The 
garment reaching down to the feet is as distinctive 
of royal dignity as of sacerdotal functions, if not 
more so. The girdle might appear to be priestly ; 
but it is gold, all gold, indicative of royalty ; whilst 
+he proper priestly girdle was not gold, but simply 
wrought and interwoven with gold. lie also 
wields a sword , wh i ch is another mark of sovereign 
ty and judicial power, which does not belong to the 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1:9-17. 75 

sacerdotal office, albeit that sword proceeds from 
his mouth. This ought to satisfy us that the char 
acter which Christ bears in this vision is something 
more than a Priest. There ia royalty and magis 
tracy, as well as priesthood. We here have to do 
with the Lord and Judge of the Churches. The 
throne is yet in the background, but the royal 
majesty is manifest. As Judge of the world, 
more is to be shown hereafter; but here he appears 
as Judge of the Churches. He is a Priest, but a 
Priest invested with royal prerogatives, and come 
forth to pronounce judgment upon the candle 
sticks which he attends. In a word, as this vision, 
and the epistles which follow it, have respect to 
the entire Church from the days of the Apostle on 
to the resurrection, grasped in a single view, so 
it is Christ s whole relation to that Church, with 
special reference to his judgment of it, that is here 
presented to our contemplation. 
Behold, then, O man, thy Lord and Judge. 
1. He is "in the midst of the seven candlesticks" 
When he left the world, he said to his disciples, 
" Lo ! I am with you always, even unto the end of 
the world." And lest the promise should be mis 
taken as belonging to ministers alone, he gave 
the still further assurance, that where two or three 
are gathered together in his name, there he is, in 
the midst of them. I cannot explain to you the 
method of this presence. Even in things with 
which we are familiar, there is mystery attaching 
to what we call presence. We speak of a man as 
present in a room, and of what transpires in that 


room as taking place in his presence. But how 
is he present beyond the immediate space occupied 
by his body ? That his presence extends beyond 
the few feet marked by the outlines of his physical 
frame, is a fact which we all feel and realize ; but 
how it is so, we cannot so easily explain. I am 
present in this audience-chamber. I am as much 
present to those in the remotest pews, as to those 
who are in the nearest. And yet, my body is 
present only in these few feet within the pulpit. 
Suppose, then, you were to conceive of me as sud 
denly exalted into a majesty and glory like that 
of Jesus. Imagine these walls widened out in 
corresponding proportion. Fancy everything now 
on the scale of the earthly and human expanded 
to the scale of the heavenly and glorified. And 
it may aid you somewhat in conceiving how Christ 
can be present with all his Churches, and yet oc 
cupy a definite space in heaven. The whole world 
is not as great to him as an ordinary room to us. 
And if my presence can fill this Church, whilst I 
keep my place in this pulpit, his presence can 
certainly fill all his Churches, even from his mys 
terious celestial location at the right hand of the 
Father. This, however, is certain, that he is, in 
some sort, in all his Churches. , There is not a 
member which he does not see and know. There 
is not a Christian service held, of which we are 
not authorized to say, The Lord is there. He is 
in his Churches, not only by his word, by his sa 
craments, by his ministers, by his authority, power 
and Spirit ; but he is there himself, as the Son of 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1:9-17. 77 

man. He is present as Priest, as Lord, as Judge; 
and hence in his own proper person, as the God- 
man. There is another, nearer, and more mani fest 
presence, to be realized when he shall come again; 
bat not more true or real than that by which he is 
even now in the midst of us. Were these dull, 
dim senses of ours but unlocked and energized, 
after the style of that transformation for which the 
saints are taught to look, we would see our Sa 
viour, present to-night, as really as John saw him 
" walking in the midst of the seven golden can 
dlesticks." It is a solemn and startling thought; 
but it is true. 

2. " Clothed with a garment reaching to the feet, 
and girt at the breasts with a girdle of gold." In 
former times, and to this day in some sections of 
the world, the long trailing robe is the token of 
dignity and honor. Thus, in Isaiah s vision of the 
Lord upon his throne, he speaks of just such a 
robe, the train or skirts of which filled the temple. 
Righteousness is indicated by a garment. The 
priestly dignity was marked by a robe of this kind, 
though somewhat shorter, and hung around the 
skirt with pomegranates and bells. The high offi 
cer who drew the marks of distinction in EzekiePs 
vision of the great slaughter was also similarly 
attired. One of those mighty personages with 
whom Daniel dealt in his heavenly visions was 
clad in this way, and also girded with gold, though 
about his loins, indicative of service, and not about 
the breasts, as indicative of privilege and superior 
dignity. If, then, we are to take this attire of the 


Son of man as symbolical, as commentators ge 
nerally have taken it, it must describe personal 
qualities, official dignity, and celestial majesty, at 
which we may well bow down in the deepest re 

But why not also take it literally ? There is no 
rtuch thing as nakedness in heaven. Clothing and 
raiment enter into all the descriptions we have of 
the saints in glory. They have robes, they have 
crowns, they have wedding-garments. Christ is 
not naked ; and when we see him, it will not be in 
a state of divesture and nudity. He has his ap 
propriate clothing for every scene of his grand 
administrations. And when we have this minute 
account of his attire, why should we strive to ex 
plain it away as mere figure and symbol ? Was 
it not the literal Son of man whom John saw ? 
Did he not have explained to him what was mys 
tical, leaving this to be taken just as it was seen ? 
For my own part, I believe that our blessed Lord 
is at this moment arrayed just as he is here de 
scribed, and that this is the dress in which he will 
deal with the Churches, and be seen of the saints, 
when the judgment begins. But everything out 
ward in heaven is in exact correspondence with 
the inward. Official robes are confined to official 
dignities, and whatever the attire of Christ indi 
cates, that he is. Everything there is reality. 
The garments are real, and that with which they 
connect is real. There will be no cloak there 
rbr unrighteousness, and no saints in tatters, or 
kings in rags, or plebeians in royal array. All 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1:9-17. 79 

are in dress what they are in reality. Christ in 
the priestly robe, is a priest ; in the royal dress, 
is a king ; in judicial attire, is a judge. And in 
the words before us, we have all these dignities 
in one, and each contributing to express the sub 
lime power, majesty and glory of that great Lord 
and Saviour with whom we have to do. 

3. And "Us head and Us hairs were white like 
wool, as white as snow." The Scriptures tell us, 
that "the hoary head is a crown of glory." The 
same appears in Daniel s vision of " The -Ancient 
of Days, whose garment was white as snow, and 
the hair of his head like pure wool." Many have 
taken these white hairs as symbolic of the God 
head of Christ. Pure, undistributed light cer 
tainly is the representative of Deity. Paul also 
says, " The head of Christ is God." White hairs 
connect with fatherhood, and patriarchal dignity; 
and "with the ancient is wisdom." But I take 
this peculiarity as I take the robe and the golden 
girdle. It belongs to the glory and beauty in 
which our Lord now appears, and will appear to 
his saints, when he shall call them to himself. It 
connects indeed with his eternal Deity, but also 
with his human majesty, and the sublime rever 
ence that appertains to him as a man. He is the 
everlasting Father, as well as the Prince of Peace. 
He is the second Adam, with all the patriarchal 
honor and dignity which would by this time at 
tach to the iirst, if he had never sinned. 

4. "And his eyes were as a flame of fire." Here 
is intelligence; burning, all-penetrating intelli- 


gence. Here is power to read secrets, to bring 
hidden things to light, to warm and search all 
hearts at a single glance. And all this is ex 
pressed in the very aspect of our Lord. It is 
given as one of the marks of Caesar s greatness, 
that he had fiery eyes a penetrating, warming, re 
vealing glance a look which enemies and dissem 
blers could not stand. Christ is the sublime and 
the almighty Caesar of the Church. He trieth the 
hearts and reins. " His eyes behold, his eyelids 
try, the children of men." " Neither is there any 
creature that is not manifest in his sight : but all 
things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him 
with whom we have to do." The light of the hu 
man eye is from without, and shifts its focal point 
as the rays happen to fall on it ; but the light in 
the eye of Christ is from the Divinity within, and 
streams forth with steady and all-penetrating 
sharpness, as well in the darkness as in the day, 
into the soul as well as upon the body. But his 
sharp look is one of inspiring warmth to the good, 
as well as of discomfiting and consuming terror 
to the hypocritical and the godless. "Will you be 
lieve it, my friends, that this is the look which is 
upon you, and which is to try you in the great 
day ! "Well may we pray the prayer of David : 
" Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, 
and know my thoughts ; and see if there be any 
evil way in me, and lead me in the way everlast 

5. " And his feet [were~] like unto fine brass, as if 
they burned in a furnace." He once said, through 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1 : 9-17. J 

Isaiah, " I will make the place of my feet glori 
ous." But here we have the feet themselves, 
those feet with which he is to tread down the 
wicked ; and the description corresponds with the 
rest of the picture. Christ is all-glorious, even 
to his feet. They are like glowing brass like 
brass in the fire heated unto whiteness. The 
glory of this metal, in such a state, is almost in 
sufferable to the human gaze. It presents an 
image of pureness which is terrible. And it is 
upon these feet of dreadful holiness that our Lord 
walks among the Churches, and shall tread down 
all abominations, and crush Antichrist, and Satan, 
and all who unhappily set aside his authority and 
his claims. Beautiful are those feet to them that 
love him, but terrible and consuming to those who 
shall be trodden by them. 

6. " And his voice as the sound of many waters. 9 
How could it be otherwise, considering how he is 
speaking and uttering himself throughout all his 
Churches, and all the world, from the beginning 
until now, and on to the day of his coming ? Or, 
leaving this out of the question, how could it be 
otherwise, considering that the day is approaching 
when " all that are in the graves shall hear the 
voice of the Son of man, and they that hear shall 
live ?" But this majesty and power of voice is 
elsewhere more especially referred to the dread- 
fulness of Christ toward his faithless servants and 
enemies. It is particularly characteristic of his 
rebukes. His word came to Jeremiah, saying, 
" Say unto them, The Lord shall roar from on high, 

VOL. I. 6 


and utter his voice from his holy habitation ; he 
shall mightily roar upon his habitation ; he shall 
give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against 
U the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall 
come even to the ends of the earth, for the Lord 
hath a controversy with the nations; he will plead 
with all flesh ; he will give them that are wicked 
to the sword, saith the Lord." But whether for 
the overthrow of his enemies or the salvation of 
his people, " The voice of the Lord is powerful ; 
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty." It scat- 
tereth the proud, and it giveth joy and confidence 
to the lowly. 

7. "And he had in his right hand seven stars" 
" The seven stars are the angels (ministers) of the 
aeven Churches," and, as such, they are distinct 
from the candlesticks. Christ walks among the 
candlesticks, but he holds these ministers in his 
right hand. The democratic idea of Church or 
ganization, which makes all power proceed from 
the members, and makes the ministerial position 
nothing more than what inheres in every Chris 
tian, is thus scattered to the winds. Ministers 
have relations to Christ and to the Church, which 
ordinary Church members, have not. They par 
take directly of Christ s authority, and are respon 
sible directly to him, and are upheld by his right 
hand, beyond the power of men or angels to dis 
place them. What a lesson for ministers, as to 
the holiness of their office, the solemnity of their 
responsibilities, the necessity of unswerving fidel 
ity, and the exercise of every confidence in their 

LECTURE III, CHAP. 1:9-17. gg 

sacred functions. They are in Christ s hand. If 
they are unfaithful none can deliver them out of 
that hand ; but if true to their position, none can 
touch them, or quench their light. They shall 
shine as the stars forever and ever. What a leg- 
son for the people as to the authority of those 
ministrations which they are so prone to despise. 
Dealing with the regular ministers of the Church 
es, you are dealing with the jewels on Christ s 
right hand. And what a lesson for all as to the 
Divine majesty and glory of our Lord! The 
Pauls, and Johns, and Husses, and Luthers, and 
Cranmers, and Knoxes, and Wesleys, and all the 
hosts of those who have been teaching and guid 
ing the Churches for these 1800 years, are no 
more than the rings upon his fingers. But they 
are jewels to him. He holds them as precious. 
Disregarded as they may be of men, they are dear 
to him. He holds them, as a man holds what he 
most esteems. He holds them, for service now, 
and for judgment when he cometh. He holds 
them, for success against the hosts of evil, for 
glorious honor if they are faithful, and for eter 
nal disgrace if they are not. 

8. " And out of his mouth went a sharp , two-edged 
sword." The sword is the symbol of magistracy 
and judgment. But this is not a Aanc-sword, but 
a word-sword. Nevertheless, it accords exactly 
with what Christ has himself said. " He that re- 
jecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one 
that judge th him : the word that I have spoken, 
the same shall judge him in the last day." Even 


now the word of Christ is all the while absolving, 
or binding under condemnation, every one to 
whom it is preached. A certain judicial process 
inheres in every faithful presentation of the Gos 
pel. It is good news glad tidings ; but there is 
a sword in it ; a sword of double edge ; and that 
a sword of judgment. And all the solemn ad 
ministrations of the last day are nothing more 
than the full revelation of this sword-power of 
Christ s word, cutting asunder the unfaithful ser 
vant, and carrying into effect what is now already 
spoken. The word of God is not an empty ut 
terance. It is " quick and powerful, and sharper 
than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the 
dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the 
joints and marrow." And this potency pertains 
to the matter of punishment, as well as to the 
matter of conviction. In the beginning, God 
spake, and it was done ; He commanded, and it 
stood fast. The word was potent. And so in the 
Gospel and the final summing up of this word of 
Christ. It will carry its own sharp execution into 
the Church and into the world, into the heavens 
and into the earth. "By the word of God the 
heavens were of old, . . but the heavens and the 
earth which are now by the same word are kept in 
store, reserved unto fire against the day of judg 
ment and perdition of ungodly men." It is that 
word which is described as the instrument of pun 
ishment to the impenitent in Pergamos, and to the 
hosts of the mighty ones whom the great day is 
to overwhelm in the winepress of the Almighty s 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1:9-17. $5 

wrath. And it is that same word which is the 
sword that shall be bathed in heaven, when its 
powers shall be shaken, and its hosts fall. Oh, 
the majesty of Jesus, and the fearfulness of his 
judgments! Vengeance is his; and he will re- 

9. "And his countenance was as the sun shineth in 
his strength" The Churches are lamps ; the min 
isters are stars ; but Christ is the sun. He is to 
the moral world what the sun is to the natural. 
But let us not consider the description exhausted 
by its spiritual significations. Christ has a literal 
face ; and that face must have a form and expres 
sion. He is not a fiction, but a reality not a 
spirit, but a man, with all the features of a man, 
though it be in a glorified condition. He has a 
countenance, and that countenance is " as the sun 
shineth in his strength." Something of this was 
seen in the mount of transfiguration, when " his 
face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was 
white as the light." Something of the same was 
manifest when he appeared to Saul of Tarsus in 
" a light above the brightness of the sun." And 
so glorious and pervading is this light which issues 
from his face, that in the New Jerusalem there 
will be neither sun, nor moon, nor lamp, nor any 
other light, and yet rendered so luminous by his 
presence, that even the nations on the earth walk 
in the light of it. And so the lightning brillian 
cy, which is to flash from one end of heaven to 
the other at the time of his coming, and the glory 
which is then to invest him and the whole firm*- 


ment, is simply the uncovering or revelation of 
that blessed light which streams from his sublime 

Such, then, is the Mi-drawn picture of our glo 
rious Lord, as he walks among his Churches, and 
proceeds to pass his solemn judgment upon them. 
There have not been wanting some to pronounce 
it grotesque and intolerable. But I cannot so re 
gard it. If a sublimer conception of Divine and 
glorified humanity, so true to the Saviour s offices 
and work, ever entered into the imagination of 
man, I have never seen it, and never heard of 
it. And when I recall the magnificent portrait 
ure, the human form, walking majestically amid 
golden furniture, clothed with the garment of roy 
alty, girded with gold, crowned with flowing locks 
that reflect the light and purity of heaven, having 
a glance of electric power, feet glowing with the 
liquid splendor of melted brass, a voice of majes 
ty at which the earth and the heavens shake, the 
right hand lit with starry jewels, a mouth whose 
words carry their own execution in them, and a 
countenance as glorious as the noonday sun; 
when I survey such majestic lineaments, and such 
mighty powers, and hear the possessor of them 
say : " I am the First and the Last, and THE LIV 
ING ONE ; and I was dead, and behold, I am living 
forever and ever : and I have the keys of death 
and of hades;" I say, when I bring all this be 
fore me, and try to realize it in my imagination, 
I am almost overwhelmed with the sublimity of 
the picture, and with the goodness, and grace, and 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1 : 9- IT. g? 

power, and might with, which the eternal Father 
hath invested the person of Jesus Christ. In the 
Gospels even, I gee him mostly as a man of sor 
rows, persecuted unto death, and laid in the grave, 
though raised again in vindication of his righteous 
goodness. But here I see him lifted up to the 
right hand of power, and clothed with all majes 
ty, that creation s knees might bow at his feet, and 
creation s tongues confess his greatness and pro 
claim his praise. Here I see Godhead in man 
hood, unhumbled and unalloyed by the union ; 
and humanity transformed and exalted to the 
sphere of the worshipful and Divine ; and all, to 
give greatness to the lowly, and strength to the 
feeble, and honor to the despised ; and to bring 
the lofty neck to obedience, tear away the masks 
of falsehood, and enforce the rule of heaven on 
the earth. I do not wonder at the effect the vision 
produced upon the exiled apostle as it burst upon 
him in his lonely solitude. 

" And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead." 
Had it not been that he was in the Spirit, and sus 
tained by the Spirit, it were hardly too much to 
suppose that it would have extinguished his life 
altogether. There is an awe and terror of a spir 
itual appearance which is indescribable. Job s 
friend says that when he saw a Spirit, the hair of 
his flesh stood up. Daniel, who feared not the 
wrath of a king, nor the lions den, when he saw 
the vision, was left without strength in him. So 
also Ezekiel, and Isaiah, and others of whom we 
read, Grod has inwrought into our nature a com- 


moQ reverence for a spiritual world. And there 
is something fearfully prophetic in tt ese irrepres 
sible instincts. They not only argue the exist 
ence of a spiritual world, and that we have deep, 
mysterious and awful connections with it, but also 
that the veil which covers it is very thin, and des 
tined some day to be withdrawn; and that its 
withdrawal connects with realities which sinful 
humanity well may dread. 

And if John was so overwhelmed with this vis 
ion of the Saviour, on whose bosom he leaned, 
and with whose power he was so familiar, how 
will it be with those who know him not, how will 
it be with us, when the startling trump of God 
shall make these heavens ring with the tidings of 
that great Saviour s presence, and these eyes of 
ours shall meet his eyes, and see him in his glory ? 
Will there be no fainting, falling, swooning, then ? 
Will there be no sinking in the souls of men, no 
drying up, as it were, of the very fountains of life 
at the stupendous Apocalypse ? Do ] not hear 
the anxious inquiry started in many a heart at the 
mere thought of it : Alas, alas, how can I behold 
it and live ? But a single utterance made it all 
right with John ; and with that, if you be indeed 
a Christian, I would have you comfort yourself in 
view of that awful moment. Jesus said, "Fear 

Great and dreadful was the glory, and power, 
and wonder, and majesty which had suddenly 
opened upon the seer. The trumpet sound, the 
scene of splendor, the all-revealing look, the voice 

LECTURE III. CHAP. 1:9-17. gg 

of power, the countenance of blazing light, all 
commingling, were enough to undo humanity. 
But the word was Fear not. Still more awful 
scenes were coming. The Churches were to be 
sifted, the saints were to be crowned, the seals of 
judgment were to be opened, the days of ven 
geance were to be revealed, the sun was to be 
darkened, the moon to be turned to blood, the 
bears to fall, the hills to be overthrown, the islands 
to be shaken out of their places, the pit to be 
opened, the hordes of hell to overrun the apos 
tate nations, the angels to shout from the sky, the 
martyrs to cry from under the altar, unprecedent 
ed plagues to overwhelm the world, the battle of 
the great day of God Almighty to be fought, the 
winepress of the wrath of God to be trodden, the 
places of the wicked to be swept with the besom 
of destruction, and the fowls to be called together 
unto the supper of the great God, to eat the flesh 
of kings, and of captains, and of mighty men, and 
of multitudes of small and great. But the word 
was Fear not. Thrones were to be set, the dead 
were to be raised, the heavens and the earth were 
to be changed, death and hell were to be sum 
moned up for destruction, a city was to come 
down from God out of heaven, and wonders of 
power and glory were to be enacted as at the go 
ing forth of the words which spoke creation into 
being. But the word was Fear not. 

The true Christian is forever safe. If you be 
in the Spirit, and the Spirit be in you, the life 
that would otherwise fail you will not fail ; the 


fear that would otherwise overwhelm you shall 
not overwhelm you. In your weakness, Christ 
will give you strength. In your terror, Christ 
will be your consolation. In your wild wonder 
ment, his hand will touch, and his gracious words 
assure you. Only see to it that you are on right 
terms with him that you are one of his true 
people that you are a brother of John, and a co 
partner in the kingdom, and in patient waiting, 
in Christ Jesus. Having this, you have secured 
your armor against all the terrors of the Apoca 
lypse. Let us, then, devoutly join in the prayer 

Draw near, O Son of God, draw near, 
Us with thy flaming eye behold ; 

Still in thy church vouchgafe to appear, 
And let our candlestick be gold. 

Still hold the stars in thy right hand, 
And let them in thy lustre glow, 

The lights of a benighted land, 
The angels of thy church below. 

Make good their apostolic boast, 

Their high commission let them proT, 

Be temples of the Holy Ghost, 
And filled with faith, and hope, aad lor*. 

Give them an ear to hear thy word ; 
Tku speakeet to the Church* now: 
lot all tongues comfess their Lord, 
Let every kaea to Jesus bow. 



REV. 1 : 17-20. (Revised Text.) I am the first and the last, and 
TH LiriHft ONB ; and I became dead, and behold, I am livimg for the 
ages of the ages ; and I hare the keys of death and of hades. Write 
therefore what thou sawest, and what they are, and what shall come 
to pass after these things ; the mystery of the seven stars which thou 
sawest upon my right hand, and of the seven candlesticks of gold. 
The seven stars are [the] angels of the seven Churches, and the seven 
candlesticks are [the] seven Chmrches. 

THERE is much of glory and majesty in Christ 
which cannot be pictured to the eye. Hence 
the vision which John had of him is supplement 
ed with titles and descriptions, the further to as 
sure his faith, and to deepen our apprehension of 
the true nature and sublimity of our great Lord 
and Judge. Our business this evening will be, 






"Jaw, the First and the Last." This is a form of 
speech often employed by the Almighty, when 
about to comfort his people, and to assure their 
faith. "We find it three times in Isaiah, and three 
times in the Apocalypse ; and in every instance 
used for a like purpose. Its meaning is hardly to 
be mistaken; and yet it has been mistaken, by 
some who wished to avoid the doctrine which it 
teaches, and by others who did not sufficiently 
weigh it in all its connections. These take it as 
if the Saviour had said : " I am He who, being 
the foremost and first in all honor, became the 
lowest and last in dishonor, sounding the lowest 
depths of ignominy and shame." That this is 
true of Christ may readily be admitted. He was, 
as Artemonius says, " the most excellent, and the 
most abject." But this is not the truth meant to 
be expressed in this formula. It does not fall in 
with the course of thought, or the end for which 
Vt is introduced, in this or in any other connec 
tion in which it is found. In Isaiah 41 : 4 ; 45 : 
6; 48 : 12; and in Rev. 22: 13; it is plainly 
intended to express what appertains exclusively 
to the divine and the eternal ; and it must be so 
taken here. It is not a mere statement of the ex 
tent of Christ s humiliation, from the estate of 
one first in honor to the estate of one lowest in 
disgrace ; but a formula which sets forth the eter- 

LBCTU&E IV CHAP. 1:17-20. 93 

nity of God, and his high superiority to all created 
things. Creation had a beginning ; but God was 
first, before creation, without beginning, himself 
the beginner. All created things are continually 
changing, and each particular style or order is for 
some end beyond itself; but God is last, abiding 
when all these changes have been wrought, and 
surviving every consummation, himself the end. 
As appropriated by Christ, it asserts his proper 
and eternal Deity, and his real participation in 
all that is characteristic of Godhead. It assigns 
him an existence before creation, and after all 
consummations, himself the beginner and the con- 
summator. Before him none was, for he " was 
in the beginning with God;" and after him none 
shall be. He is the first, in that all things are 
from him ; and the last, in that all things are to 
him and for him. The beginning was made from 
him, and everything will be consummated by him 
and in him. The first motion of the absolute, 
eternal, unapproachable Godhead toward out 
wardness of expression, calling the worlds into 
existence, and organizing all created things, was 
this Christ and Son of God ; and that to which all 
creation, providence arid grace is ordered and 
tending, and in which all is to have, not a cessa 
tion of existence, but the fulfilment of its ultimate 
purpose and accomplishment, bodying forth all 
the harmony, richness, beauty, glory and perfec 
tion of every divine thought and intent, is nothing 
more nor less than the conformation of all things 
to, and the setting out of the unspeakable fulness 


of, this self-same Christ and Son of God. It is 
therefore a formula spanning the nature and phi 
losophy of Godhead, in all his works, from the un 
searchable depths of the eternal past, to the 
equally unsearchable depths of the eternal future, 
showing all to be from Christ, and by Christ, and 
to Christ, originating in him, perpetuated through 
all successions of change by him, and with their 
final consummation standing in and embodying 
his fulness. It is the title which Jehovah takes 
where he declares his eternal and universal crea- 
torship, and his infinite superiority over all other 
beings: "Hearken unto me, O Judah, and Israel 
my called ; I am he, I am the First, I also am the 
Last. Mine hand hath laid the foundations of 
the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the 
heavens." And when Jesus appropriates this 
description to himself, he identifies himself with 
the eternal Creator, and with the emphatic I, 
claims to himself what is distinctive of Godhead. 
For is he a whit less than God, though he did 
become man, and is now joined forever to a hu 
man nature. 

"And THE LIVING ONE."* This is another 
title of Deity. It refers not to mere manifested 
life, but to life inherent and underived. The 
words do not relate simply to the fact of Christ s 
having lived in the flesh, but to his possession of 

* " O expresses not BO much that He, the Speaker, 
1 lived, aa that He was The Living One, the Life (Jno. 1:4; 
14 : 16), ***<*>/?, having life in Himself, and the fountain and 
iource of life to others." Trench on the Seven Epistles, p. 70. 

LECTURE IV. CHAP. 1:17-20. 95 

a deeper and self-exiBting life, of which that was 
only one manifestation. The life here claimed 
by Christ is life coeval with the creation of the 
world, and which had an eternal subsistence with 
the Father before the world was. John tells us 
that in Christ was life, and that that life was the 
same eternal life which was with the Father. (1 
Jno. 1:1,2.) All mere creatures are dying ones, 
except as their being is sustained by him who 
gave it ; but God is the Living One, as life in him 
is self-existent. It needs no other to uphold it. 
It came from none, and it is sustained by none, 
but itself. Immortality may be imparted to crea 
tures, but God only hath it in and of himself. 
And when Christ declares himself to be THE LIV 
ING ONE, he claims and asserts a consubstantiality 
with the self-existent God, from whom all things 
proceed, and on whom all creatures depend. 

And yet he " became dead." It is impossible for 
our dull powers to penetrate the depths of these 
divine mysteries. "When the ancient sage was 
asked to give a definition of God, he said, God is 
a circle, whose centre is everywhere, and whose 
circumference is nowhere. He had expressed the 
truth, but under very contradictory conceptions. 
God is truly in every particular place, and yet 
beyond all place at the same time. He is in 
every place entire, as a centre, and yet he is 
bounded by no lines of limitation. Neither is he 
diffused, or scattered in parcels here and there, 
partly at one place and partly at another. This 
is true, but it is very confusing to our feeble com- 


prehension. And we have like difficulty in ex 
plaining how Godhead is to be found, as in the 
Father, so in the Son, or how the self-existent and 
eternal could yet become dead. We are on safe 
and sure ground when we assert that God is ever- 
living, self-existent, and eternal; and that the same 
is true of the Christ and Son of God ; and yet, it is 
equally true and certain, that this same Christ and 
Son of God, in that manifestation of his eternal 
life which he lived in human flesh, also died as 
we say in the Creed, "was crucified, dead, and 
buried." He who had life within himself from all 
eternity, he who was made the depository of all 
outward life before any creature was formed, be 
came a dead person. All this, indeed, was ac 
complished in the flesh, in the man Christ Jesus ; 
but it was that flesh and manhood to which The 
Living One was conjoined in one person. It is 
the same /who proclaims himself the First and 
the Last, and The Living One, who says that HE 
became dead. Some tell us that what was of the 
Divine substance in Christ withdrew when he 
died ; this I cannot admit. It was 

" God the mighty Maker died 
For man the creature s sin." 

If it was not so, then I am at loss to know what 
atoning power there could be in his death more 
than in that of any martyr to the truth. And yet 
there was no suspension of the continuity of that 
which is eternal and ever-living. That there wae 
a certain emptying of himself on the part of Christ 

LECTURE IV. OHAP. 1:17-20. 97 

in his humiliation and death is taught us. And 
that there was a certain quitting of the use and 
claim of his Godhood in his incarnation and sub 
mission to death a certain putting of himself 
out of self-existing life in order to receive it again 
from the Father, we must believe. But we 
must at the same time hold, that it was somehow 
The Living One that became dead, and the eter 
nal life that had share in the mysterious immola 
tion, giving virtue to the sacrifice, and imparting 
itself through it. 

But this becoming dead is specially connected, 
and that with a note of exclamation, with another 
announcement, that this same who became dead 
is alive, and living for the age of the ages. The state 
of death was but for an instant, and was succeed 
ed by a resurrection, which put him again in the 
possession and exercise of the attributes of the 
ever-living. He laid down his life that he might 
take it again, and thus gave the more brilliant 
proof that he is The Living One. The most suc 
cessfully to show that the distinction belongs to 
one man to accomplish what no other man can 
accomplish, is to have the experiment made by 
each. " So God, in order to prove that Christ, 
and he alone, is The Living One, doth permit the 
many to come under the dominion of death ; and 
having thus proved that no man is The Living 
One, he then bringeth Christ into the same con 
troversy with death, who, by overcoming it, doth 
prove himself the Prince of Life, and the Master 

VOL. I. 7 


of Death ; so that he could say, < I am the Resur 
rection and the Life. By being the Resurrection, 
he is proved to be the Life. He is not the Life in 
consequence of the resurrection, but in antece 
dence of it. The resurrection proves him to be 
that being in whom it had pleased God that it 
should reside as in an invincible fortress, which 
was tried and proved to be death-proof."* 

Hence the further proclamation, "and I fiave 
the keys of death and of hades. 9 f It is hardly pos 
sible that the Saviour meant to represent death as 
a place. It is, however, a power, and a fearful 
power, locking up and holding tight all who come 
under its sway. What millions have gone down 
beneath that power, and are now held by it! 
Every acre of the earth is full of them, and the 
bottom of every sea. I have seen their grim 
skeletons on mountain summits, eight thousand 
two hundred feet above the level of the sea ; and 
I have walked upon their ashes more than a thou 
sand feet below that level. And from far deeper 
depths to still more elevated heights, on all the 
slopes and hillsides, and in all the fields and val 
leys of the earth, death s victims lie in fetters of 

* Irving in loc. 

f "So all the best MSS. and Versions have it, while the 
reading of our Translation inverts the natural and logical or 
der ; for it is death which peoples hell or hades ; it is a king 
of death who makes possible a kingdom of the dead (6:8; 
20 : 13, 14) ; for by hell, or hades, this invisible kingdom or 
dominion of the dead is intended, and that in all its extent, 
not merely in one dark province of it, the region assigaed to 
tee lost." Trench in loc. 

LECTURE IV. CHAP. 1 : 17-20. 99 

darkness, silence and dust. Even on the life-pow 
ers of the Son of God were these manacles made 
fast. But by him they were also opened ; for he 
hath the keys of death. 

And as death holds the bodies of men, so hades 
holds their souls. There is an under world, in 
termediate between death and the resurrection, 
and the souls of all the dead are in that world, 
the good in rest and hope, and the wicked in un 
rest and fearful awaiting of judgment. I know 
not where it is, nor what it is. I only know that 
it is Paradise for the righteous, and anything but 
Paradise to all others that all who die are re 
tained there, shut in and locked up till the time 
of the fulfilment of this Apocalypse. It was into 
this "hell" that the soul of Christ descended when 
he expired, and where it would be retained till 
now, had he not been master of the keys, by 
which he opened its gates, and came forth to 
make this glorious declaration to his people. But 
the new cords of the Philistines could not tie 
down the strength of Samson, nor the gates of 
Gaza retain him in their custody. Whilst his 
enemies were shouting against him, the Spirit of 
the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords 
that were upon his arms became as flax when 
touched with fire, and the doors of the gates that 
were shut upon him, and their very posts, his 
shoulders bore away in everlasting triumph. 

And those keys and potencies are still r his 
possession, and wielded by him. He giveth per- 
ons to death and hades, and retains them there, 


as he will, and he brings them forth again at his 
pleasure, as he did the nobleman s daughter, the 
widow s son, and Mary s brother. When he 
arose, he not only brought his own soul forth, and 
his own body from the grave, but likewise those 
of other saints, levying tribute on those mysteri 
ous realms, as now their conqueror, and hence 
forth their Lord. And there is no hell so deep 
but he can open it, and thrust his enemies in, and 
lock it that they may never more come out. Nor 
is there any disability of the saints by reason of 
death or hades, nor any doors or bands locked 
upon them in their state of separation from the 
body, but he has the key to turn back the dingy 
bolts and set all such prisoners free. And as he 
said of old, " death, I will be thy plague : O 
grave, I will be thy destruction ;" the time is com 
ing when he will apply those keys, and leave not 
a soul or body more in death or hades which 
shall not be brought forth in the power of his re 

Some tell us that this was all spoken to John 
in his affright, that he might not be overwhelmed 
with his fears. But I cannot see how such grand 
and overpowering declarations of the majesty of 
Christ could add to the strength and confidence of 
a man already sinking and next thing to dead on 
account of the glory he was called to contemplate. 
It was the " Fear not," and the strength-impart 
ing touch, that were for John s special benefit ; 
but what is said more than that is the filling out 
of the picture on which the apostle had just been 

LECTURE IV. CHAP. 1 : 17-26. 

gazing, and which he could not perhaps hare en 
dured to hear from Christ s own lips, but for this 
" Fear not/ and assuring touch. No, no ; let us 
not thus miss the great meaning of the Scrip 
tures. It was not John s particular comfort, but 
the world s enlightenment, that was intended by 
these overwhelming proclamations. What the 
Saviour here utters in the terrified apostle s ears, 
the same as what had just passed before the apos 
tle s astonished eyes, relates to the grand portrai 
ture of Christ, as he now stands related to his 
churches and ministers, and as he will presently 
come to judge them. He is the First, and the 
Last, and The Living One. He is the same who 
died on Calvary s cross a sacrifice for our sins, 
and descended into hell as the vanquisher of al! 
the dominions of darkness. Though once dead, 
and an inmate of hades, he is alive now for all 
the ages of ages. In this eternal life, which he 
had from all eternity, he walks among his people, 
locking and unlocking death and hades, disposing 
of souls and bodies as to him seema best, and 
keeping them in his own power for that Apoca 
lypse and administration which it is the office of 
this book to describe. This is the Christ, in those 
great attributes, acts and offices, on whom the 
Churches are built, in whom our faith and hopes 
as Christians stand, and with whom we have to do 
as our Lord and Judge. 

n. Hence the command, not with reference 
specifically to the apostle s fears, but with refer- 


ence to the seven Churches, " Write (o3f)* therefort 
what thou sawest, and what they are, and what shall 
come to pass after these things." 

Here, then, is the great starting-point, and 
grand foundation of this book, and the key to its 
true analysis. Assuming all the facts of the Gos 
pel history, the life, death, resurrection and as 
cension of Christ, as accomplished ; the Church 
es fully organized and equipped ; the new dispen 
sation established and in working order; the 
Apocalypse starts with a presentation of the cha 
racter, titles, and administrations of our risen 
and glorified Lord in relation to the Churches, 
and the dispensation as then inaugurated. This 
first vision, and the proclamations and explana 
tions connected with it, accordingly spans the 
whole interval from the time John wrote to the 
end of the dispensation, the outlines of which it 
sets forth. Christ is not one thing for one age 
and country, and another thing for another age 
and country. What he was then, and the charac 
teristics and relations in which he then appeared, 
are those in which he now is to be contemplated, 
and in which he will continue until the entire 

* " It is certainly a piece of carelessness on the part of our 
translators to have omitted, which none of the previous trans 
lators had done, the $? (therefore), about the right of which to 
a place in the text no question has ever been made. With 
what intention the illative particle is used is perhaps best re 
ferred to what goes immediately before : Seeing that I am 
this mighty One, the first and the last, who was dead and am 
Alive, do thou therefore write ; for the things declared by me 
are all steadfast and sure." Trench in loc. 

LECTURE IV. CHAP. 1: 17-20. 1Q3 

economy reaches its consummation. And what 
he utters in the seven epistles is his judgment of 
the Church, his mind and decision with reference 
to it, not only as it then existed, but in its whole 
universality, and entire continuity, and multiform 
membership, from the commencement to the con 
summation, including the portion assigned to each 
and all when he comes. 

Taking in, then, all that John saw and heard in 
his first vision, together with what he was com 
manded to write, we are carried down to the end 
of the third chapter. Everything to that point is 
received from one scene of observation, and holds 
together as belonging to one and the same order 
of things. From the same standpoint he sees 
and hears and writes it all. It is the same glori 
ous Saviour that is first seen, then heard in the 
announcements concerning himself, in the expla 
nations of what had been seen, and in the seven 
addresses to the seven Churches. From the first 
sound of the trumpet voice with which the Apo 
calypse begins, to the last " He that hath an ear, 
let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Church 
es," we find no break, no change, in the speaker, 
in the position of the seer, in the outlines of the 
picture, or in the course of the communications 
made. It is all ONE, cohering in all the parts, 
touching only the same subjects, and finishing up 
in a clean and perfect conclusion. What follows 
introduces us to quite other scenes, other charac 
teristics, and other administrations. There is no 
coming back again to this after it is once left 


We then read no more of the Churches, or of 
Christ among the candlesticks. There is not any 
thing of the order set forth in this first section 
after the third chapter. As perfect as the unity 
of everything up to the conclusion of the seven 
epistles, is the diverseness from it of everything 
that comes after. 

Whatsoever then is signified by this vision of 
Christ among the candlesticks, its entire career is 
embraced. If it means the Church, it is the en 
tire Church to its end in this world. If it is the 
present dispensation, it is that dispensation to its 
close. And if it be something else, it is that 
something to the conclusion of its history. This 
I consider important, and settled by the facts in 
the case. The whole character of the vision 
shows that it is not fragmentary or sectional, but 
complete. There is much coming after it, but the 
subject is no longer the same, and all the admin 
istrations are of a different order. What it seta 
forth is, therefore, the whole of it. 

And with this point fixed, there is another 
equally important, which this command makes 
clear. As this vision embraces the entire career 
of that to which it refers, and stretches to the 
very end of its history, so what follows does not 
commence till what is signified by this first vision 
is accomplished. What there is more than was 
seen and heard in this instance, and in the accom 
panying explanations, is only to " come to pass 
after these things." In other words, the things 
presented are as consecutive in their fulfilment as 

LECTURE IV. CHAP. 1.17-20. 105 

in John s visions of them. What is contained in 
the first three chapters must run out and end, 
before what is contained in the subsequent chap 
ters can begin. So that if we can ascertain what 
order of things that is which is set forth in the 
first vision, and whether it has run its course or 
still holds, we are in a position to know exactly 
whether what is to " come to pass after these 
things" is still future or not. 

What have we then by which to identify what 
is contained in the first vision ? Fortunately, the 
Saviour has not left us in uncertainty. His com 
mand to John was not only to write what he had 
seen, but also " what they are" iNor was John 
unfaithful to the charge. He has written " what 
they are;" and we have the explanation in Christ s 
own words. " The seven stars are [the ] angels of the 
seven Churches, and the seven candlesticks are [the ] 
seven Churches." Do you ask what Churches ? 
The answer is, the Churches existing at the time 
of the vision. Kot Churches in heaven, but 
Churches on the earth. Their very names and 
localities are given. So far, then, we are on solid 
ground. The vision is that of Christ in relation 
to his Churches on earth, or that economy of 
things which we call the Christian dispensation, 
which had come into full and settled force and 
sway at the time John wrote, and which exists 
now precisely as it existed then. There have 
been changes, but not in the laws of the dispen 
sation, or in Christ s offices, relations, and admin 
istrations under it, or in it. We cannot, there- 


fore, be mistaken. It is the present Church, or or 
der of things with respect to the Church, which is the 
subject of this vision. And as the vision includes 
the whole course of that to which it relates, the 
present order, so far as respects the Church on 
earth, must wind up and close, before one particle 
of this book, beyond the third chapter, in any full 
and proper sense, can be fulfilled. And until 
people come to see and admit this, they will try 
in vain to understand or interpret this book. 

Some maintain that we are now living under 
the sixth vial, and that nearly everything up to 
the eighteenth chapter has already been fulfilled. 
Nor will I dispute that there is a sense, dim and 
inchoate, in which this is true. Prophecy, in its 
fulfilment, is made up of several concentric cir 
cles, blended in the same general picture. It is 
said that history is continually repeating itself. 
Much truer is this of prophecy. But each fulfil 
ment is in a higher fulness, till the last sums up 
all. There is but one proper and ultimate literal 
fulfilment of any prophecy ; but, in anticipation 
of that there are typical and precursory fulfil 
ments preliminary rehearsals in advance of th^ 
grand performance. "We can accordingly trace 
out in history a very interesting but not always 
distinct correspondence to what is contained in 
the first eighteen chapters of this book. But if 
that were the true and only fulfilment, so much 
learning and acquaintance with history would be 
necessary in order to track it through the multi 
plicity and complication of human events, that it 

LECTURE IV. CHAP. 1:17-20 1Q7 

must needs remain an uncertain and secoud-hand 
thing to the great body of the Lord s people. I 
look then for another, simpler, more direct and 
easier understood fulfilment. 

It has been said that the way for a missionary 
to approach a non-christian population is to " carry 
his Bible in one hand and Gibbon in the other, 
to show out of the pages of an infidel historian 
how exactly the prophets have up to the present 
time been fulfilled." But it will require more ev 
idence than I have yet seen, to convince me that 
it is necessary to take men through the school of 
the historian, whether skeptic or not, in order to 
teach them the truth of Christianity, or the mean 
ing of the prophets. The Scriptures are self-de 
monstrative and self-explanatory, if men will only 
read them as they are written, and let them speak 
for themselves. Valuable as history is, and much 
as may be made of Gibbon, we need neither of 
them to get at the true meaning of the Apoca 
lypse. The early Christians had them not, and 
yet understood this book better than all the hun 
dreds of learned commentators who think to 
verify their interpretations out of Gibbon and his 
tory. In other words, the exclusively historic 
school of interpreters, as things appear to me, do 
but darken and obscure this book with learned 
rubbish, and lend their influence to the mischiev 
ous notion that it is a book of wild and grotesque 
fables, and uncertain riddles, which it is wisdom, 
greatness and piety in a man never to touch. 

Whilst, then, I admit that these predictions 


may Lave had a dim, imperfect, but oft scarcely 
traceable fulfilment in the past, I am firmly con 
vinced that the true and proper fulfilment of 
everything beyond the third chapter is to take 
pla^e only after the Church has run its course, 
completed its history, and received its judgment. 
We are elsewhere told that "judgment must begin 
at the house of God." (1 Pet. 4 : 17.) If that be 
true, then the judgment of the world is some 
thing subsequent, a judgment which takes place 
after the judgment of the Church. The Seals, 
Trumpets, and Vials, therefore, must be future, as 
the judgment of the world is future ; for it is the 
j udgment of the world that they foreshow. Reaa 
the Apocalypse in this view, and you will find it 
a new book to you, luminous and precious, which 
needs no infidel Gibbon to explain it, or to prove 
it to be of God. 

IH. Look we now a little more particularly into 
the mystery which John was directed to explain, 
and the explanation given the mystery of the 
seven stars upon Christ s right hand, and of the 
seven candlesticks of gold. 

In the language of Scripture, a " mystery" is 
something which man is capable of knowing, but 
can only know when it is revealed. So here, it 
is not beyond the range of our understanding to 
take in what these stars and candlesticks repre 
sent ; but we know what they represent, not from 
our own wisdom or searching, but through God s 
revelation. He tells us that "the seven stars are 
[the] angels of the seven Churches, and the seven 

LECTURE IV. CHAP. J :17-20. 1Q9 

candlesticks are [the] seven Churches," and a 
child at once understands what no sage could 
otherwise have known. 

You will notice also that there is nothing in 
this vision to which the word mystery is applied, 
but the stars and the candlesticks. Everything 
else is its own explanation ; that is, it is literal 
and to be taken as it is written. The stars and 
candlesticks are symbolic, and stand for some 
thing which could not otherwise so well be fitted 
to the picture ; but only these. We are thus fur 
nished with several very important hints of inter 
pretation. One is, that when the Scriptures em 
ploy symbols they tell you so. Another is, that 
where no indication to the contrary is given, we 
must interpret according to the letter. Another 
is, that what is symbolic and mysterious must 
have the mystery revealed to be correctly under 
stood, and that what is revealed is no longer & 
mystery. This book, then, is not a book of sym 
bols, as some speak. It is a book of revelations, 
as its own title declares ; and revelations are not 
mysteries. Mystery and Apocalypse are correla 
tive terms. (Rom. 16 : 25.) The one is the lifting 
off of the chief peculiarity of the other. "We find 
mysteries or symbols in this book, but only excep 
tionally, and always accompanied with the proper 
note of indication, and the necessary texaAt^, or 
unveiling of what is meant. 

The stars are mentioned first and have the most 
conspicuous place. They are the angels of the 
Churches. Stars are frequently employed as re- 


presentative of lordship and authority, if not in it* 
centre, yet in its distributions arounJl the centre. 
Symbolically they indicate high official place. 
They here denote the very highest officers of the 
individual Churches. They are called angels, and 
hence some have argued for an order of superhu 
man creatures. But the word angel is more de 
scriptive of office than of nature. It means a 
messenger, one invested with a special commission. 
It can apply as well to men as to celestial orders. 
(Hag. 1 : 13; Mai. 2:7; 3:1.) And that it is 
here meant to apply to men, I gather from the de 
linquencies which are subsequently laid to the 
charge of some of these angels, and from the 
utter silence of the Scriptures with reference to 
any arrangement putting the Churches under the 
charge and instruction of heavenly beings. Some 
of the holy angels must be very naughty at times, 
and the ministers and Churches in very strange 
ignorance concerning an important part of their 
allegiance, or these mystic stars are but men of 
like passions with ourselves, nothing more nor 
less than ministers in charge of the Churches ; not 
only of the Churches named, but of all Churches 
in every age. 

They are stars because they are illuminators, 
and because they are heads and leaders of the 
flocks over which the Holy Ghost hath placed 
them. They are angels or messengers, because 
God hath uent them, and made them his repre 
sentatives, the guardians of his Churches, and the 
stewards of his mysteries. They are ambassa- 

LECTURE IV. CHAP. 1:17-20 

dors lor Christ, as though God did beseech by 
them. They are, for the purposes of their office, 
" in Christ s stead." (2 Cor. 5 : 20.) In Daniel 
we read of heavenly angels, guardians of nations, 
and communicating with men in God s name; 
and here we have earthly angels, guardians of 
Churches, set and authorized to exercise their min 
istry in the name of Christ. 

Kor is it only bishops, in the modern sense of 
that term, as some have argued, that we are to 
understand by these angels. They are overseers 
indeed, but not of sees consisting of many dis 
tinct churches. There was just one angel for one 
Church, not one angel for the seven Churches; 
and so each angel was simply the pastor in charge 
of his particular Church. 

Upon the dignity and importance of this office 
1 need not dwell. That is manifest in the fact 
that it stands foremost in this Revelation of Jesus 
Christ. " And well is it entitled to that pre-emi 
nence, for without the ordinance of preaching 
there would be no Church ; and without a Church 
there would be no Christian kingdom ; and with 
out a Christian Church and kingdom there would 
be no apostacy, no beast, no false prophet : so that 
the whole substance of this book, the whole dra 
ma of God s providence therein, doth derive itself 
out of the office of the preacher of the word, the 
angel, the sent one of Christ, the Christian pas 

* Irring m loe. 


" And the seven candlesticks are [the] seven Church 
es." I have already sufficiently remarked upon 
the aptness of this symbol. If the ministers are 
lightgivers, the congregations are lightbearers the 
organization for upholding the light. Hence the 
Church is elsewhere described as " the pillar and 
ground of the truth." We must have Churches 
as well as ministers. This is the Divine order 
and constitution. " God hath set the members 
every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased 
him. There are many members, yet but one 
body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I 
have no need of thee : nor again the head to the 
feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more 
those members of the body, which seem to be 
more feeble, are necessary." (1 Cor. 12 : 18-22.) 
Yea, the whole Church, Christ the Head, the stars 
on his right hand, and the entire membership of 
believers clustered around them, are but one great 
mystic candlestick, for setting and holding forth 
the great light of walvation; which saves them 
that believe, and judges and condemns the world 
that lieth in unbelief and sin. 

The number of these angels and Churches is 
seven. I must reserve for another occasion what 
I have to say upon the meaning of these numbers. 
There is a sacred arithmetic, as well as sacred per 
sons, places, and times. Numbers in the Scrip 
tures are as significant as words. They are as 
much a part of the Apocalypse as anything else. 
And there is as much resting upon them, as upon 
any other class of particulars contained in this 

LJSCTURB IV. CHAP. 1:1^-20. H3 

book; as we shall see when we come to consider 
them. There were more Churches than these 
seven in existence when John received this com 
mission ; and some of more prominent standing 
than several of those named. But the number 
wa fixed at seven, no more and no less, and to 
these particular seven for reasons which will ap 
pear in due time. 

There is yet one point in this mystery of the 
stars and candlesticks to which I will refer. It is 
the realm in which they are stationed, and its 
characteristics as indicated in the provision made 
for it. Where you see stars, and need candles, 
there is darkness.- And how dark is that world, 
that kingdom, that community, that heart, into 
which the light of Christianity has not effectually 
penetrated? With all the splendor of its genius, 
all the glory of its arms, all the brilliancy of its 
power, how savage, how beastly, how like a sepul 
chre, full of chilly gloom and festering death ! 
When the Gospel first arose upon the world, in 
what state did it find mankind ? Let the apostle 
answer : " Given up to uncleanness through the 
lusts of their own hearts; filled with all unrighte 
ousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, 
maliciousness ; full of envy, murder, debate, de 
ceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters 
of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of 
evil things, disobedient to parents, without un 
derstanding, covenant breakers, without natural 
affection, implacable, unmerciful ; doing these 
things, and having pleasure in them that do 

VOL. I. 8 


them." (Eom. 1 : 22-32.) The same had been 
true for ages their governments, fierce beasts 
and monsters; their morals, selfishness and vain 
glory ; their very gods deified vices and bad pas 
sions. And when God s messengers came to 
them with the light of truth and righteousness, 
how were they treated ? Let the same apostle an 
swer : " Some were tortured ; and others had trial 
of cruel mockings, and scourgings, of bonds and 
imprisonment : they were stoned, they were sawn 
asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: 
they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, 
being destitute, afflicted, tormented; compelled to 
make their homes in deserts, and in mountains, 
and in dens and caves of the earth." (Heb. 11 : 
35-38.) Even the Lord of the covenant was cru 
cified and killed, and all his apostles martyred, 
and the Church s first age made one continuous 
baptism of blood by the enthroned malignity of 
the unsanctified heart. Such is humanity, un- 
reached and unredeemed by the grace of God in 
Christ Jesus. Such it was, and such it is, and 
such it always will be, as long as the world stands. 
And this is the realm in which God has stationed 
his candlesticks and his angels. Well might the 
Saviour say : " Behold, I send you forth as lambs 
among wolves." (Luke 10 : 3.) 

Those stars and candlesticks have not been use 
less. Some hearts, communities and kingdoms 
have been attracted by the light, and have learned 
to appreciate its transforming beauty, and are 
found to a greater or less degree walking and re- 

LECTURE IT. CHAP. 1:17-10. 

joicing in it. But still the world in the main is a 
dark and wicked world. The light sent of God 
is " a light that shineth in a dark place," and will 
so continue " until the day dawn/ for the great 
consummation. Till then, therefore, we must ex 
pect to suffer and to fight. While the light will 
never fail to make itself felt upon the dark world, 
neither will the depravity and darkness of earth 
fail to make itself felt upon us. The wheat and 
the tares, good and evil, Christ and Antichrist, are 
side by side, each at war with the other, and the 
conflict ever increasing in intensity, until the 
Lord of the harvest shall come with his reapers, 
and make the separation by removing the candle 
sticks, and giving over what remains to its own 
proper darkness, and "the blackness of darkness 
forever." God make us faithful in our work of 
waiting and witnessing till the silver note from 
heaven shall sound the signal for our release, and 
welcome us to the glad home of light and rest ! 


WATCH, fair Spouse ; the heavenly Bridegroom neareth 

Soon he comes, his waiting love to claim j 
Quickly, surely, he, thy Lord, appeareth, 

To bestow on thee his own new name. 
Watch, in readiness of love, to meet him, 

For his heart once throbb d out blood for thee, 
That thou might st amid his glory greet him, 

And the King in all his beauty see. 

Mourner, wipe the tears thy cheeks bedewing, 

For the Man of Sorrows draweth nigh ; 
He has wept, and he, thy struggles viewing, 

Hastes to bid the flowing drops be dry. 
Then shall all thy griefs be calm d forever, 

When thy Saviour clasps thee to his breast, 
Whispering that no veil again shall sever 

Thee from God, thy everlasting rest 

Sinner, dread ! for the Avenger bendeth, 

Looking on thy darken 7 d deeds of sin ; 
When his way amid the clouds he wendeth, 

How wilt thou thy Sovereign s mercy win ? 
Haste, before that day s terrific dawning, 

Trust the saving blood on Calvary spilt ; 
Though the ready gulfs for thee are yawning, 

He can save thee, he can cleanse thy guilt. 

Trembler, let his trump thy spirit gladden, 

Lo, it soundeth even now from far ! 
All the fears which now thy weak heart sadden, 

At his coming shall be chased afar. 
Jesus cometh, Saviour, Prince, Creator ! 

Christian, thy redemption draweth near 
Watch we for the glorious Consummator, 

So that we may meet him without fear. 




Rxv. 1 : 20. The scran 

word Church stands in the English Testa- 
ment as the equivalent of a compound Greek 
word (exxtyffta, from ex and xadecu), signifying to call 
out of or from among. In three instances, our 
translators have rendered it assembly. This is its 
primary sense, which underlies all its applications 
in the New Testament, the Septuagint, and the 
Greek language in general. The heathen Greeks 
used it to denote the select assemblies of free 
citizens convened for the transaction of public 
affairs, in which the common populace, strangers, 
and such as had forfeited civic rights, had no 
place. It is used by Stephen to denote the con 
gregation of the children of Israel in the wilder 
ness, who had been called forth from Egypt, and 
were on their way to the promised land. (Acts 


7 : 38.) It is sometimes used to denote the entire 
community of Christian people, of all nations 
and ages; as where the Saviour says: "Upon 
this Rock will I build my [exx,ty<na] Church;" 
and where Paul exhorts the elders to " feed the 
[exxtyffta] Church of God which he hath purchased 
with His own blood." It is also used to denote 
the small companies of Christians belonging to 
one household, as where we read of " Kymphas 
and the [exx/b?<na] Church which is in his house ; " 
" Priscilla and Aquilla, and the [ez*>ty<na] Church 
that is in their house." But its most frequent 
application is to denote some particular society 
of Christians, in the same neighborhood or city, 
organized around a common altar, and statedly 
coming together in the same services : as we read 
of "the [exx^ffta] Church which is at Corinth;" 
" the [exxtyeta] Church which is at Jerusalem," &c. 
It means an assembly, convened by authority, 
and constituted of a specific class, out of, but 
withdrawn from, the general mass of the popula 
tion. It therefore most expressively sets forth 
what a true Church is. 

The Gospel everywhere speaks of a calling and 
an election, and the Church is the organized so 
ciety of the called and elected. It is the assembly 
or community of those whom God has called out 
from the world into a common fellowship of faith, 
hope, and obedience, and which is preserved and 
perpetuated by means of functions and services 
included in the call. And wherever there is a 
company of such as have received and believed 

LECTURE V. CHAP. 1:20. H9 

the Gospel, organized into one body, in the charge 
of one authorized minister, and coming together 
in the same stated services, there is a true Church. 
And such societies were "the [ticra &x^<reae] seven 
Churches" of the text, concerning which I pro 
pose to notice more especially : 


The locations of these seven Churches are 
twice given: first, in the general commission 
which John received ; and second, in the specific 
directions what to write to each. The command 
of the trumpet voice was : " What thou seest, 
write in a hook, and send it to tlie seven Churches : 
unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Perga- 
mos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and 
unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea." And in 
the succeeding chapters, he was further directed 
to write " unto the angel of the Church in Ephe 
sus ; unto the angel of the Church in Smyrna ; 
unto the angel of the Church in Pergamos," &c. 

Thsse are not unknown places. They all lie 
within the scope of a few hundred miles north of 
the Mediterranean and east of the outlet of the 
Black Sea. The Churches in these localities are 
sometimes called "the seven Churches of Asia; 
but the "Asia" of which the Scriptures speak is 
not the great continent of Asia, or even of Asia 
Minor, but only the western part of Asia Minor, 
directly south of the Black Sea. The whole of it 


does not include a larger territory than the Bingie 
State of Pennsylvania. Less than thirteen months 
ago, I passed entirely around two sides of it, and 
visited two of the most noted places to which the 
text refers. 

The first in the list is Ephesus. This was once 
an important and magnificent city to procon 
sular Asia, about what Philadelphia is to Penn 
sylvania. Of the seven, it was the nearest to the 
point at which John had the vision. It was the 
centre of trade for a rich and beautiful country, 
and the seat of its government, learning, art, 
wealth and religion. It was a place specially 
consecrated, in the minds of the people, by many 
myths and legends of gods and goddesses, acd by 
the presence of a temple which was one of the 
wonders of the world. It was here that Paul 
lived for two years, and achieved some of his 
most brilliant missionary successes. Here he 
wrought many "special miracles," healing the 
sick and casting out demons, even with "hand 
kerchiefs and aprons" which he had touched. 
Here he gained that glorious triumph over the 
exorcists and magicians, for whom Ephesus was 
famous, who " brought together their books, and 
burned them before all men," the price of which 
was "fifty thousand pieces of silver." Here he 
daily taught and debated the great doctrines of 
the faith, till "all Asia" had tidings of the truth 
as it is in Jesus, and the frightened silversmiths 
began to cry out for their craft, in consequence 
of the power of his arguments against the alleged 

- LECTURE V. CHAP. 1:20. 

divinity of Diana and the worshipfulness of her 
shrines. Here he wrote his first letter to the 
Corinthians; and to the converts here he after 
wards sent a masterly epistle, which constitutes 
an important part of the Christian Scriptures. 

Ephesus was also the home of the Apostle 
John. Here he ministered and subsequently 
died. The ruins of a church still remain, which 
are said to mark the spot wnere he was buried. 
Here, most likely, the blessed mother of the 
Saviour had her last home, and laid off her 
mortal body. Here Apollos was converted to 
Christ, and first exercised his great gifts in the 
Gospel s interests. Here, too, the beloved Timo 
thy lived, and discharged the duties of his sacred 
ministry, and died a victim of mob violence for 
his protests against the license and frenzy of the 
great festival of Artemis. And next to Jerusalem 
itself, the world, perhaps, has not another spot 
around which cluster so many holy histories, 
classic interests, and precious traditions. 

But Ephesua is a mere desolation now, alto 
gether waste, without an inhabitant. The great 
market-place, where the exchanges of a renowned 
metropolis were once conducted, I saw planted 
with tobacco, unenclosed, unattended, weedy, and 
forsaken. The great lizards, as we rode along, 
darted about in amazement at the sight of man, 
over fallen columns of porphyry and marble, and 
splendid cornices and capitals, which were once 
the admiration of the world. And silence, ma 
laria aad death brooded upon what was proudly 


styled u the first of cities," and embraced the 
names of some of the greatest in wealth and wis 
dom, religion and literature, arts and arms. The 
vast theatre, the largest ever constructed, which 
once rang with the shouts of the frenzied thou 
sands who, " all with one voice, about the space 
of two hours, cried out, Great is Diana of the 
Epheuians!" still shows its grand outlines of 
walls and arches ; hut old wild bushes are gnarled 
about its heavy masonry, and the camel was 
browsing in its forsaken circles as I rode through 
it Even the glorious temple of the great mother 
goddess can no longer be identified with certainty. 
Two piles of colossal ruins are each claimed as 
its remains, and I plucked wild berries in both 
of them. Remnants of cyclopean walls, cause 
ways, temples, streets, and houses, line the plains 
and hills and mountain-sides of a vast area which 
once was filled with their glory ; but the whole 
place is a complete desolation, enveloped in a poi 
sonous atmosphere, and tenanted only by things 
unclean and vile. 

Smyrna is the next in the list, the next nearest 
to Patmos, and the next in importance. It is the 
only one of the seven places named which retains 
anything of its ancient standing. It is finely sit 
uated, at the head of a beautiful bay, about forty 
miles northeast of Ephesus. It is now the com 
mercial centre of the Levant, and is being invested 
with a system of railroads, sending out their irom 
arms into the interior, to gather to it the riches 
and trade of the fertile lands which lie almost 

LECTURE V. CHAP. 1:20. 123 

desolate behind it. It has a population of about 
ome hundred and twenty thousand, mostly Greeks, 
but profusely intermingled with people of all na 
tions, languages, complexions, religions and fash- 
iotts, who lire in small, dark houses, strung along 
narrow, crooked and filthy lanes, dignified with 
the name of streets. There are a few good, clever 
buildings ; but it dees not appear so much like a 
city, as a sort of confused convention of the long- 
severed inhabitants of Babel, with a view to 
make a city, upon the plan of which they cannot 
agree. One of its most marked features is the 
constant coming and going of almost intermina 
ble strings of camels and donkeys, which even 
the railroads have not been able to supersede. 
The appearance and habits of the people are any 
thing but attractive, and mosquitoes abound al 
most to suffocation. 

Smyrna was originally founded by Alexander, 
and is stoutly claimed as the birthplace of Homer. 
It was at first laid out with great regularity and 
architectural taste, and was considered the most 
beautiful city in Asia. It was celebrated for its 
library, its temples, and its sacred festivals and 
games. There is no allusion to it in the Scrip 
tures, except in the Apocalypse. How and when 
Christianity was introduced into it, we have no 
account. The Church there was no doubt founded 
during Paul s stay at Ephesus. It was the seat 
of Polycarp s ministrations and martyrdom. It 
was there that Irenseus studied, and that many 
Christians in different ages perished on account 


of their faith. The hillside of Pagns, on which 
Polycarp was burned, has since been reddened 
with the blood of fifteen hundred confessors at 
one time, and eight hundred at another. It is as 
sacred in Christian annals as it is majestic and 
conspicuous to the beholder. Remnants of the 
ancient acropolis still stand on its summit, from 
which the view is exceedingly attractive. Fancy 
could hardly paint a more fitting mount for the 
ascension of the saints who from thence went up 
to their rest. 

Pergamos is the next in the list. This lies di 
rectly north of Smyrna, perhaps forty miles dis 
tant. It was settled and named by the ^olian 
Greeks, after the fall of Troy. I was within 
twenty miles of it, but no nearer. At the time 
the Apocalypse was written, it was a sumptuous 
city, the home of rich chiefs, who had adorned it 
with magnificent residences, temples and groves. 
It had a library which rivalled that at Alexandria, 
a great medical school, and was famous for the 
rites which were there celebrated in honor of 
^Esculapius. It was not a commercial town, such 
as Ephesus, but a union of a Pagan Cathedral 
city a university seat, and a royal residence, em 
bellished, during a succession of years, by kings 
and chiefs fond of expenditure and ample in re 
sources. It was a city of heathen temples a 
grand Pantheon of Pagan worship a metropolis 
of sacred sensuality and hence " Satan s throne." 
It is now a mere tomb of former greatness. Half- 
buried arches, columns Drostrate in the sand, and 

LECTURE V. CHAP. 1.20. 125 

a few thousand Turkish and Greek huts, is aoont 
all that remains to mark the luxuriant and sensu 
ous city, where the faithful Antipas suffered, and 
so much glory reigned. 

Twenty or thirty miles to the southeast was 
Thyatira, the fourth in the list, and once a con 
siderable town, founded by Seleucus Nicator. In 
the time of John, it was mainly inhabited by 
Macedonians, who had formed themselves into 
various guilds of potters, tanners, weavers, rope- 
makers and dyers. Lydia, the seller of purple 
stuffs, whom Paul met at Philippi, was from this 
place, and was connected with one of these de 
partments of the industrial activity for which it 
was distinguished. It was a place of great amal 
gamation of races and religious observances. It 
now has about thirty thousand inhabitants, and is 
full of ruins. The mouths of many of the wells 
are made of capitals of old columns; and the 
streets, in places, are paved with fragments of 
carved stones the relics of the ancient city. 

From Thyatira, some thirty miles to the south 
ward, we come to Sardis, at the foot of Mount 
Tmolus, on the banks of a rivulet famous for its 
golden sands. Here the wealthy Croesus lived 
and reigned. Here the wise Thales, Cleobulus, 
and Solon had their homes. And on the plains 
around it once lay the hosts of Xerxes, on their 
way to find a sepulchre at Marathon. It was a 
rich and glorious city when Cyrus conquered it ; 
and though subsequently destroyed by an earth 
quake, it obtained considerable distinction under 


the Romans, in the reign of Tiberias. It is now 
a scene of melancholy ruins, with a mill and a 
few shepherds huts. When Emerson visited it, 
he says : " There were more varied and vivid re 
membrances associated with the sight of Sardis, 
than could possibly be attached to any other spot 
of earth ; but all were mingled with a feeling of 
disgust at the littleness of human glory : all all 
had passed away! There were before me the 
fanes of a dead religion, the tombs of forgotten 
monarchs, and the palm-tree that waved in the 
banquet hall of kings ; while the feeling of deso 
lation was doubly heightened by the calm, sweet 
sky above me, which, in its unfading brightness, 
shone as purely now as when it beamed upon the 
golden dreams of Croesus." 

Southeastward, less than forty miles, stood 
Philadelphia, the great wine-market of Phrygia, 
rocked with oft-recurring earthquakes, and with 
a population once large and powerful, but never 
very distinguished. It took its name from the 
king who founded it. It is still a considerable 
country town, with a dozen churches or more, 
but not Christians enough to fill one-fourth of 
them, and those of a very doubtful sort. In 
Roman times, it was not of sufficient importance 
to command law-courts of its own, but belonged 
to a jurisdiction which had its centre in Sardis. 
Those who constituted the Church to which John 
was commanded to write, are supposed to have 
been poor people, living on the outskirts, and 
heavily taxed for public purposes. 

LECTURE V. CHAP. 1:20. 127 

Laodicea lay some fifty miles still further to 
the southeast. It was built, or rather rebuilt, by 
one of the Seleucid monarchs, and received its 
name in honor of his wife. It was a place of 
considerable size, trade and wealth. Both under 
the Romans and under the Turks, it has been 
the battle-ground of contending parties in Asia 
Minor. The remains of theatres, temples and 
other public edifices, still bear testimony to its 
former greatness. It does not appear that Paul 
ever visited it in person; but it was evidently 
through him that Christianity was there intro 
duced ; and to the believers there he once wrote 
a letter which has been lost* and sent his 
friendly greetings from his prison at Rome. In 
subsequent times it became a Christian city of 
eminence, the see of a bishop, and a meeting- 
place of Church Councils. It was destroyed by 
the Mahommedan invaders, and is now a scene 
of utter desolation. There is a small village in 
the neighborhood, the houses of which are built 
of its ruins. Emerson says it is even more soli 
tary than Ephesus, for the latter has the prospect 
of the rolling sea, or of a whitening sail, to en 
liven its decay ; whilst Laodicea sits in widowed 
loneliness, its walls grass-grown, its temples deso 
late, its very name perished. He left it in a 
thunderstorm, preferring to hasten on, through 
rain and tempest, to delay in that melancholy 

* Col. 4 : 16. It is thought by some that the epistle here 
referred to has not been lost, but is the aarao as the Epistle to 
p hilemoH, or the First Epistle to Timothy. 


spot, where everything whispered desolation, ana 
where the very wind that swept impetuously 
through the valley sounded like the fiendish 
laugh of Time, exulting over the destruction of 
man and his proudest monuments. 

So much, then, for the locations of these seven 
Churches. We pass to the more important mat 
ter of their significance. This is indicated in the 
number seven. The earliest commentator on the 
Apocalypse, whose work has come down to us, 
was Yictorinus, Bishop of Pettau, or Petavium, 
who died a martyr in the year 303. He was the 
contemporary of Irenseus, and a man of piety, 
diligence in setting forth the teachings of the 
Scriptures, and vigorous in his perceptions of the 
meaning of the sacred writers. Most of his 
writings have been lost, except some fragments. 
His comments on the Apocalypse survive, in a 
text less pure than we could wish, but sufficiently 
giving the substance of his views. In his Scholia 
in Apocalypsin, he says that what John addresses 
to one Church he addresses to all ; that Paul was 
the iirst to teach us that there are seven Churches in 
the whole world, and that the seven Churches named 
mean the Church Catholic; and that John, to ob 
serve the same method, has not exceeded the 
number seven.* 

* The passage, as it stand* in Migne a P&troloyias (torn. 6, 
col. 320), reads tlMis : " Ist septem stell sunt septem Eccle- 
Biw quas nominat in vocabulis suis, et yocat eas ad quas fecit 
epistolas. Non quia ipsse solee Bunt Ecclesi, aut principes ; 
eed quod uni dicit, omnibus dicit. Nihil enim differunt, ut 

LECTURE V. CHAP. 1:20. J29 

What Victorinus means, is that Paul, in writ 
ing to seven Churches, and to seven only, intended 
to have it understood that all the Churches of all 
time are comprehended in seven; and that, in 
the same way, the seven Churches in the Apoca 
lypse are meant to comprise all the Churches in 
the world: that is, the Church Catholic of all 
ages. This was also the view of Tichamius, of 
the fourth century; Arethas of Cappadocia, and 
Primasius of Adrumetum, in the sixth ; and Vi- 
tringa, Mede, More, Girdlestone, and a large body 
of divines, of later periods.* 

ex ilia ratione quis paucorurn similium major! numero ante- 
ponat. In toto orbe septennatim Ecdesias omnes, teptem esse 
nominates, et unam esse Catholicam Paulus docuit. Et primum 
quidem ut servaret et ipse typum septem Ecclesiarum, non 
excessit numerum. Sed Scripsit ad Eomanos, ad Corinthics, 
ad Galatas, ad Ephesios, ad Thessalonicenses, ad Philippenses, 
d Colossenses. . . . In his ergo septem Ecclesiis, unitis Ecdesias 
C&tholicce, fidcles sunt, quia una in septem qulitatem fidei et 
electionis est." 

* This view has, indeed, been pronounced "egregious tri 
fling " "a mere castle in the air " " the offspring of nothing 
but imagination" "-mere gratuitous assumption." And if 
blustering words make it so, there is no doubt that we must so 
regard it. But the murderers of Victorinus got no credit, in 
the judgment of truth and hearen, for their work ; and those 
who seek to overturn his opinion in this particular, may yet 
find themselves with quite as little for theirs. The author 
whose language 1 have just given has so stultified himself by 
his rejection of the natural and necessary conclusion an 
nounced by Victorinus, that, after two large and ponderous 
volume* on the Apocalypse, he has left it wholly unexplained 
why seven Churches, and only Beven, and these particular 
seven, were chosen to be the subjects and recipiemts of these 
VOL. i. 9 


There is a sacred significance in numbers : not 
cabalistic, not fanciful; but proceeding from the 
very nature of things, well settled in the Scrip 
tures, and universally acknowledged in all the 
highest and deepest systems of human thought 
and religion. 

The unit, one, is the source and parent of all 
numbers. It therefore stands for God, in the 
most hidden absoluteness of His being, in which 
the whole Godhead, and all things, stand. " There 
is one God, and there is none other but He." 
(Mark 12 : 32.) One expresses commencement, 
and God is the commencement. The unit under 
lies all continuation, and by God all things con 
sist. And nothing can so well expre&<* the abso 
lute First Cause, as the number ONE. It stands 
for the absolute Unity in heaven, and the abstract 
individual on earth. 

seven epistles. Nay, wken lie comes to his elaborate exposi 
tion of the significance of numbers, he gives the data for his 
own confutation, and, in effect, establishes what he elsewhere 
ridicules. "Seven," he Bays, "is the designation of that 
which is perfect" "the perfect number by way of emi 
nence" "often employed in th sense of a complete, ade 
quate, perfect number" "tk number aarly everywhere 
employed throughout th book in a symbolic way" "a num- 
bei which may stand, as it were, in the place of a repre*nta- 
tiv of all other numbers." Take these conclusioms, and 
apply them to the seven Churches, and to what other reeult 
are we brought but exactly that announced by Victorinus 
that the seven Churches stand for the entire Church, the com 
plete society of professing Christians, the Church univcrs&lj in 
the whole of its membership and the entireaess of its earthly 
condition and career ? 


But Godhead, as let forth to the contemplation 
of rational beings, is a Trinity a One Three and 
a Three One. Nearly all the leading nations of 
antiquity, in harmony with revelation, have so 
represented Him. In this Trinity, the Son is the 
second. Two, therefore, stands for Christ, and is 
significant of incompletion, or something want 
ing. It is the first from the one, and reposes on 
the one, and is necessary to the making up of 
the first complete complex number, but is not 
complete in itself. It is the productive number, 
but it is only complete when the product is 
added. The Spirit proceeds from the Father 
and the Son. Man and wife are two-one, but 
the product of dual unity is needed to complete 
the family. 

Three is the number of individual completion. 
It is composed of three numbers, each of which 
is in itself one, and which multiplied together 
still make only one. Three, therefore, represents 
the Trinity, each number of which is God, and 
yet the Three together are still only One. It is 
the simplest composite unity, and forms the sim 
plest compound figure in geometry the equal- 
sided triangle, which is indivisible, and unre- 
solvable into anything else. It is the first and 
fixed compound unit of mathematical science. It 
therefore properly stands for the Trinity and in 
dividual completeness. As such, it has been also 
wrought into all God s works. Man is body, 
Boul, and spirit three-one. The family is man, 



and wife, and offspring three-one. Religion is 
knowledge, action, and experience tnree-one. 

"Matter, and breath, and instinct, unite in all the beasts of 

the field ; 
Substance, coherence, and weight, fashion the fabrics of tht< 

earth ; 
The will, the doing, and the deed, combine to form a 

The stem, the leaf, and the flower beginning, middle, and 


Cause, circumstance, consequent : and every three is one. 
Yea, the very breath of man s life consisteth of a trinity of 

And the noonday light is a compound the triune shadow 

of Jehovah." 

Four is the worldly number. It proceeds from 
three, and includes three. And as three repre 
sents the Trinity the highest, and the perfect 
four designates that which proceeds from the 
Trinity, and is dependent thereon : the creation, 
the universe. Hence, the world resolves itself 
into four elements : fire, air, earth, and water. 
The points of the compass are four : north, east, 
south, west. There are four seasons, four winds, 
four grand divisions of the earth. The great 
world-powers of history and prophecy are four. 
The living beings, supposed to represent the 
forces of providence, are four. Ezekiel s vision 
of God s providence in the world revealed four 
cherubim, four wheels with four sides, four faces, 
and four wings. The waters in Eden were four. 
The fourth commandment, and the fourth clause 
in the Lord s Prayer, refer to the earth. The 

L1CTUB1 V. CHAP. 1:. 

aquare and the cube, those important ground- 
forms of common geometric relations, are fours. 
And to the Oriental philosophers, four is always 
the figure of the universe, especially of the 
world. There is therefore no mistaking of this 

Five represents progress, but incompleteness. 
It is the perfect three, with the imperfect two. 
On the fifth day life was created in the sea, but 
there was yet no life on land. Five toes, or five 
fingers, are but half of what pertain to a com 
plete man. Under the fifth seal the martyrs are 
impatient, but are told to wait yet a season. 
They are enjoying some of the fruits of their 
faith, but their crowns are deferred. The fifth 
vial is poured upon the seat of the beast, but 
does not destroy it utterly. The virgins were 
five wise and five foolish, showing that the one 
class does not include all the saved, nor the other 
all that fail to enter into the marriage of the 

Six is the Satanic number. As the darkest 
hour immediately precedes the dawn, and the 
darkest years are the last before the millennial 
Sabbath, so the number immediately preceding 
the complete seven is the worst of all. The 
sixth body in the solar system is a shattered one. 
The sixth epistle to the Churches tells of an hour 
of universal trial and suffering; the sixth seal 
brings destruction and death ; the sixth trumpet 
destroys the third part of men; and the sixth 
vial introduces the unclean spirits who gather 


the kings of the earth and of the whole world to 
the war of the great day of God Almighty. An 
tichrist s number is three sixes: six units, six 
tens, and six hundreds 666 the individual com 
pletion of everything evil. And Christ was cru 
cified on the sixth day, which is still the common 
execution day, and is popularly regarded as the 
most unlucky of the seven. 

Seven is the number of dispensational fulness. 
It is the complete in that which is temporary 
not the finally complete. It carries with it the 
idea of aacredness in that which relates to this 
world. It is the Trinity and the created in con 
tact the divine Three with the worldly four. 
Hence, it is always connected with whatever 
touches the covenant between man and God, 
worship, and the coming together of the Creator 
and the creature. Hence the sacred number. 
" The evidences of this reach back to the very 
beginning. We meet them first in the hallowing 
of the seventh day, in pledge and token of the 
covenant of God with man, as indeed in the 
binding up of seven in the very word Sabbath."* 
They are also traceable in the nature and con 
firmative power of an oath, which is signified 
by a Hebrew word embracing this number. It 
U a number which, somehow, occurs in cases 
of union between God and man ; in representa 
tions of the holy in the earthly; in all expres 
sions of the completeness of any specific sacred 

* Trench on the Seven Epistle*. 

LEOTUE1 V. CHAP. !:*. 135 

order or time. The instances, at any rate, are 
too numerous to mention. The Bible is full of 
them. And the Apocalypse, which is the book 
of the consummation of all God s diipensational 
dealings with mankind, is, above all, a book of 
sevens. It consists of seven visions, with the 
sevenfold ascription of glory to God and to 
the Lamb, and discloses to us the seven Spirits 
of God, the seven candlesticks, the seven stars, 
seven lamps of fire, seven seals, seven horns and 
seven eyes of the Lamb, seven angels with seven 
trumpets, seven thunders, seven heads of the 
beast and seven crowns upon those heads, the 
seven plagues, seven vials, seven mountains, and 
seven regencies. And it is this book of sevens 
because it is the book of the fulness of every 
thing of which it treats the Trinity s consum 
mation of all divine dispensations. It is there 
fore the number of dispensational fulness. And 
whatever bears this number, in the divine reck 
oning, is full, complete, with nothing left out, 
and nothing of its own kind to be added. 

Eight is the number of new beginning and res 
urrection. The eighth day ii the beginning of 
a new weak. The Jewish child was circumcised 
the eighth day, which was its birth into covenant 
relations. Noah was "the eighth person," and 
hii fondly consisted of eight, and they started the 
new world after the flood. Christ rose from the 
dead on the eighth day. David was the eighth 
son of Jesse, and he established a new order for 
Israel. In the eighth year, the Jews were to sow 


the ground again as the fresh beginning of a new 
septenary. The eighth head of the beast was 
the revival of the seventh. Our Sunday, which 
celebrates the new creation which began in the 
Saviour s resurrection, is the eighth day, the first 
of the new week. And the eternal order of 
blessedness is to begin with the eighth thousand 
years from Adam. 

Ten is the number of worldly completion, espe 
cially in the line of worldly evil. The great beast 
of worldly power, in its final form, has ten horns. 
The body of man, in earthly completeness, has 
ten fingers and ten toes. The moral law, as ap 
plicable to man in this world, has ten precepts. 
The earthly manifestations of Christ after His 
resurrection were ten. The tribulation spoken 
of to the Church in Smyrna was for ten days. 
The lost tribes of Israel are ten. The Church, in 
its mixed earthly condition and slumbering, is 
represented by ten virgins. It is the union of 
the worldly four and the Satanic six ; of the new 
eight and the incomplete two ; of the individually 
perfect three and the dispensationally full seven. 

Twelve is the number of final completeness. 
Hence the twelve months in the year, the twelve 
signs in the zodiac, the twelve tribes of Israel, 
the twelve apostles of the Lamb, the twelve stars 
in the crown of the woman clothed with the sun, 
the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem, the twelve 
fruits of the Tree of Life, &c. 

But I will not linger among these numbers. I 
have said enough to show that they have an im- 

LECTURE V. CHAP. 1:20. 137 

portant significance, rooted in the nature of 
things, and acknowledged in the Scriptures and 
in the common language and thinking of the 
great mass of mankind. They are not inventions 
of men, but expressions of God and His works. 
They also furnish new and forcible evidence of 
the truthfulness of the estimate of this book 
which I have given to wit : that it is the book 
of the consummation a divine picture of the 
fulness and winding up of all God s dispensations 
in this world. I have given more than was ne 
cessary for my purpose, but I thought it best to 
give the connected list. The text contains but 
one of these numbers. That number is seven. 
These Churches are seven. And if this number 
has the significance which I have assigned it, and 
which seems to be admitted by all who have 
looked into the subject, it gives us the key to the 
true significance of these Churches. It assigns 
to them the unmistakable character of complete 
ness. As " the seven Spirits which are before the 
throne" are the one Holy Spirit, in all the fulness 
and completeness of His offices and powers in 
this dispensation, so "the seven Churches" are 
the one Holy Catholic Church, in all the amplitude 
and completeness of its being and history, from 
the time of the vision to the end. 

Nor does this conflict with the fact that these 
were literal historic Churches, existing, at the 
time the apostle wrote, at the places which I 
have described. They were Churches of Epheeua, 
Smyrna, Pergamos, &c., as really as our St. John s 


is a Church of this present Philadelphia. But 
there were other Churches then existing, at Col- 
losse, Antioch, Alexandria, Corinth, Rome, and 
elsewhere, some of them larger and more power 
ful than some of those named. "Why, then, were 
these not taken into the account ? Did they not 
need instruction, and rebuke, and encouragement, 
and warning, as well as the favored seven ? The 
only explanation is, that they were somehow in 
cluded in the seven. They were not specifically 
and locally addressed, because what concerned 
their estate, and the mind of Christ with refer 
ence to it, are embraced and expressed in the 
seven. In other words, these seven Churches, in 
their names, in their graces, in their defects, in 
their relations to Christ, and in His promiies and 
threatenings to them severally, comprehend every 
thing found in the entire Church, as it then ex 
isted, or was to exist. Seven, by common con 
sent, is just the number to express this idea. 
That it is a mere accident in the composition a 
mere grace of rhetoric, the more to interest the 
reader by the artistic method by which these mo 
mentous matters are handled, I cannot admit. 
That a man with the zeal and fire of the apostle 
John, standing in the midst of the most stupend 
ous and overwhelming scenes ever to be enacted 
on earth, should, amid it all, coolly set to work 
to elaborate a style, and round up his message 
into graceful sections and harmonious divisions, 
merely to entertain the taste and please the ima 
gination of his readers, is to me incomprehensible. 

LECTURE V. CHAP, i : 2ti. 139 

The idea carries absurdity on its face. And it so 
sinks the apostle into the poet, and the inspired 
man of God into the rhetorician, and the direct 
words of Christ into the fancies of men, that it 
strips the Apocalypse of that eacredness which it 
claims for itself; transmutes it into a mere reli 
gious Iliad, or Paradise Lost, or Paradise Re 
gained, and places it before us as a book for 
aesthetic criticism and rhetorical study, rather 
than, as it was meant to be, a message from Jesus 
to regulate our faith, and hope, and life, with re 
ference to the judgment to come, every word and 
feature of which is from God, and much in the 
very language of God. I must, therefore, insist 
that this doctrine of numbers, if we had nothing 
else, settles upon these seven Churches a repre 
sentative comprehensiveness which embraces the 
entire fulness of the Church of all time.* 

* " The seven must be regarded as constituting a complex 
whole as possessing an ideal completeness. Christ, we feel 
sure, could not hare placed Himself in the relation which He 
does to them, as holding in His hand the seven stars, walking 
among the seven golden candlesticks, these stars being the an 
gels of the Churches, and the candlesticks the Churches them 
selves, unless they ideally represented and set forth, in some 
way or other, the universal Church militant here upon earth." 
Trench on the Seven Epistles, p. 44. 

" The number seven is used throughout the Apocalypse in a 
symbolic sense, and is admitted to be expressive of complete 
ness or perfection. Why should the seven Churches be an 
exception to the rule ? Were the seven local Churches, the 
names of which are given, the only light-bearers or candle 
sticks? Did the light entirely cease to shine when these 
Asiatic Churches ceased to exist ? Let these seven Churches. 


There are, however, other considerations to 
corroborate this view. One is found in the 
seven times repeated admonition: "He that hath 
an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the 
Churches." Such language, seven times under 
lined, as if printed in the largest capitals, has in 
it an intensity of universality and urgency beyond 
anything in all the volume of Scripture. Why is 
this ? The whole Apocalypse is encircled with a 
special promise of blessing to him that reads and 
keeps it. We find it in the first verses, and 
among the last ; and we argue from it that there 
is something special in this book, calling for our 
particular attention. And when we find this 
sevenfold additional admonition affixed to the 
seven epistles, and in each place made to refer to 
the whole seven, what are we to gather from it but 
that, in the mind of Jesus, there is much more in 
these seven epistles than we find on the surface 
of them, and that they apply to Christians uni 
versally, and concern every man, throughout all 
Gospel times, in a way which turns the peculiari 
ties of these seven particular Churches into types 

or candlesticks, be regarded as a sevenfold or perfect repre 
sentative of the one Church, in its responsibility to Christ as 
His light-bearer or witness before the world, and we have an 
interpretation at once consistent with the entire character of 
the book, and sufficient to account for the selection of seven 
local Churches, the divers states of which furnish what was 
needed for this sevenfold or perfect view of the whole profess 
ing body." Plain Papers, p. 418. 

" The number seven in the Scriptures denotes something uni 
versal and complete. "Luther (see Watch s Luther, ix. 2063). 

LEOTUKS V. CHAP. 1:26. 141 

And images of the Church general in its entire- 
ness of membership and history? Admit that 
these epistles contain a panoramic outline of the 
whole visible Church, as that Church and her 
deeds appear in the light of the throne of God, 
and this vehemency, the scope and intensity of 
which cannot be exaggerated, is at once explained. 
If, in dealing with these epistles, every man, of 
every age, has a divine thermometer whereby to 
tell exactly where he or his Church stands in 
Christ s judgment, and one constructed and de 
livered to him from Christ himself for this spe 
cific purpose, then this fulness and unlimitedness 
of urgency is comprehensible and fitting ; but on 
any other assumption, it degenerates into mere 
poetry and rhetoric. And as I am bound to 
believe that Christ s words, so solemnly and sig 
nificantly given, are entitled to all the fulness of 
meaning of which they are capable, I must con 
clude, from this sevenfold charge concerning 
these seven epistles, that these seven Churches 
of Asia, as here described, were meant to be 
paradigmatic of the whole Church, every Church, 
and every member of the Church, and Christ s 
judgment of them, then and thereafter, up to 
and inclusive of His final apportionment of re 
wards and punishments to each. 

The same may be argued from the word mys 
tery, as applied to these Churches and their 
angels. It intimates, from the start, that there is 
something more intended than is seen upon the 
surface ; and what that something is, we find in 


the view I have given. And, indeed, the nature 
of the vision in which John received these epis 
tles, assumes that not these seven Churches alone, 
but in them the entire Church, is to be contem 
plated. The angels of other Churches, and other 
ages, are as much stars in Christ s right hand as 
these seven, and why should we think to leave 
them out of the solemn representation ? 

These seven Churches, then, besides being lit 
eral historical Churches, stand for the entire 
Christian body, in all periods of its history. But 
how, or in what respects ? Upon this point, let 
me add a word or two before I close. 

In the first place, the seven Churches represent 
seven phases or periods in the Church s history, 
stretching from the time of the apostles to the 
coming again of Christ, the characteristics of 
which are set forth partly in the names of these 
Churches, but more fully in the epistles addressed 
to them. There has been an JEphesian period a 
period of warmth and love and labor for Christ, 
dating directly from the apostles, in which defec 
tion began by the gradual cooling of the love of 
some, the false professions of others, and the in 
coming of undue exaltations of the clergy and 
Church offices. Then came the Smyrna period 
the era of martyrdom, and of the sweet savor 
unto God of faithfulness unto death, but marked 
with further developments of defection in the 
establishment of castes and orders, the license 
of Judaizing propensities, and consequent depart 
ures from the true simplicities of the Gospel. 

LECTURE V. CHAP. 1:26 143 

Then followed the Pergamite period, in which 
true faith more and more disappeared from view, 
and clericalism gradually formed itself into a 
system, and the Church united with the world, 
and Babylon began to rear itself aloft. Then 
came the Thyatiran period the age of purple 
and glory for the corrupt priesthood, and of 
darkness for the truth ; the age of effeminacy and 
clerical domination, when the Church usurped 
the place of Christ, and the witnesses of Jesus 
were given to dungeong, stakes and inquisitions ; 
the age of the enthronement of the false pro 
phetess, reaching to the days of Luther and the 
Reformation. Then came the Sardian period 
the age of separation and return to the rule of 
Christ; the age of comparative freedom from 
Baalam and his doctrines, from the ISTicolaitans 
and their tenets, from Jezebel and her fornica 
tions ; an age of many worthy names, but marked 
with deadness withal, and having much of which 
to repent ; an age covering the spiritual lethargy 
of the Protestant centuries before the great evan 
gelical movements of the last hundred years, 
which brought us the Philadelpkian era, marked 
by a closer adherence to the written word, and 
more fraternity among Christians, but now ra 
pidly giving place to La.odicean lukewarmness, 
self-sufficiency, empty profession, and false peace, 
in which the day of judgment is to find the un 
thinking multitude who suppose they are Chris 
tians and are not. 

The details in these outlines I leave till we 


corae to the more direct exposition of the epistlei 
themselves, but will yet observe, on this point, 
that everything which marks one of these periods 
pertains also, in a lower degree, to every period. 
It is simply the predominance, and greater or 
less vigor, of one element at one time, which dis 
tinguishes the seven eras from each other. The 
seven periods, in other words, coexist in every 
period, as well as in succession, only that in one 
period the one is predominant, and in another 
the other. 

In the next place, the seven Churches repre 
sent seven varieties of Christians, both true and 
false. Every professor of Christianity is either 
an Ephesian in his religious qualities, a Smyrna- 
ote, a Pergamite, a Thyatiran, a Sardian, a Phil- 
adelphian, or a Laodicean. It is of these seven 
sorts that the whole Church is made up, the seve 
ral marks and characteristics of each of which 
will be brought out hereafter. 

Nor are we to look for one sort in one period, 
or in one denomination, only. Every age, every 
denomination, and nearly every congregation, 
contains specimens of each. As all the elements 
of the ocean are to be found, in more or less dis 
tinctness, in every drop from the ocean, so every 
community of Christian professors has some of 
all the varied classes which make up Christendom 
at large. One may abound most in Ephesians, 
another in Smyrnaotes, another in Thyatirans, 
and others in other kinds; but we shall hardly 
b^ at a loss to find all in all. There are Protest- 

LECTURE V. CHAP. 1:11. 145 

ant Papists, and Papistical Protestants; sectarian 
anti-sectarians, and partyists who are not schism 
atics ; holy ones in the midst of abounding defec 
tion and apostasy, and unholy ones in the midst 
of the most earnest and active faith; light in 
dark places, and darkness in the midst of light. 

I thus find the seven Churches in every Church, 
giving to these Epistles a directness of application 
to ourselves, and to professing Christians of every 
age, of the utmost solemnity and importance. 
They tell what Christ s judgment of each of us 
is, and what we each may expect in the great day 
of His coming. In every age, and in every con 
gregation, Christ is walking among His Churches, 
with open, flaming eyes ; and these epistles give 
us His opinion of what His all-revealing glance 
discovers. And as we would know where we 
stand, and what we may expect when this Apo 
calypse is fulfilled, let us carefully examine, and 
pray God to help us to the true understanding of, 
these special summaries of what the Spirit saith 
unto the Churches. 

VOL. I. 10 



Rxr. CHAPS. 2-3. (Revised Text.) Te the angel of the Churoh 
In Ephesus writ* : These things saith He that heldeth the seven stars 
la hif right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven candlesticks 
f geld : I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy endnranoe, and 
that then oanst not bear those who are evil, and hast tried those who 
say they are apostles and are net, and hast fomnd them false, and hast 
endurance, and didst bear for my name, and hast not fainted. Never 
theless, I have against thee that thou hast left thy first love. Remem 
ber, therefore, whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do the first 
works ; otherwise I am coming unto thee, and will remove thy can 
dlestick out of its place, if thou 4oet not repent. But this thou hast, 
that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanejs, which I alto hate. He 
that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. 
To him that overoometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is 
In the paradise of my God. 

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write : These thing* 
saith the first and the last, who became dead and revived : I know 
thy tribulation, and thy poverty (nevertheless thou art rich) , and [I 
knew] thy reproach from these who say they are Jews and are net, 
but [are] Satan s synagogue. Fear not the things which then art 

L1CTUR1 VI CHAP8. 1-1 147 

about to suffer ; behold, indeed, the deril is about to cast [feme] f 
700 into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall hare tribulation 
ten days : b* faithful unto [the endurance of] death, and I will give 
the* the orewn of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the 
Spirit saith unto the Chnrehes. He that erereemeth shall not b 
hart of the second death. 

And to the angel of the Church in Pergamos write : These things 
ttaith H whieh hath the sharp sword with two edges : I know where 
ihou dwellest, [even] where Satan s throne [is], and then boldest f&ai 
my name, and didst not deny the faith of me, eren in the days of 
Antipaa my witness, my faithful one, whe was slain among you, where 
Satan dwelleth. Nevertheless, I have against thee a few things, 
[that] thou hast there those who hold the teaching of Balaam, who 
taught Balak to put a stumbling-block (an occasion of fin) before the 
sens of Israel, to eat things offered to idols, and te commit fornica 
tion. So thou thyself also hast those who hold the doctrine of the Nico- 
laitanes in like manner. Repent, therefore, otherwise I am coming to 
thee quickly, and will make war with them with the sword of my 
mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto 
the Churches. To him that everoometh will I give of the hidden 
manna, and I will give to him a white stone [a bright gem], and on 
the stone a new name written [engraved], which no one knoweth 
saving he that roooiveth it. 

And to the angel of the Church in Thyatira write : These things 
saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes as a flame of ire, and his feet 
like unto fine brass : I know thy works, and charity, and faith, and 
service, and thy endurance, and thy last works [to be] more than the 
first. Notwithstanding, I have against theo that thou suffered thy 
wife Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess, and teacheth and lead- 
eth astray my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things r.scri- 
fioed unto idols. And I gave her time that she should repent, and 
she is not minded to repent of her fornication. Behold, I cast her 
into a bed [of sickness, torment or perdition], and those who commit 
adultery with her into great tribulation, if they do not repent of her 
works. And her children will I slay with death ; and all the Churches 
shall know that I am He who searoheth the reins and hearts ; and I 
will give to every one of you according to your works. But unto yon 
who are the remnant in Thyatira, as many as have not this teaching, 
who have not known the depths, as they speak, ([depths] of Satan), 1 
put not upon you any other burden ; only that whieh yo have hold fast 
till I come. And he that overoometh, and he that keepeth my works 
onto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations ; and he 
hall rule them with a rod [sceptre] of iron ; as the vessels of earthen 


ware shall they be broken to shivers ; as I also received from my 
Father ; and I will give to him the morning star. He ttut hath an 
ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. 

And to the angel of the Church in Sardis write : Theas thing* eaith 
He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the aeren stars : I know 
thy works, that thou haat a name that thoa livest, and art dead. 3* 
watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that were about to 
di* ; for I hare not found thy works complete in the sight of iny God. 
Remember, therefor*, how thou hast received and heardest, and ob 
serve and repent. If, therefore, thoa dost not watch, I will arrive 
over thee as a thief, and thoa shalt not by any means know at what 
hour I will arrive ever thee. Nevertheless, thou hast a few names in 
Sardis which have not defiled their garments ; and they shall walk 
with me in white, for they are worthy. He that oreroometh thus, 
hall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not by any means wipe 
out his name oat of the book of life, and will confess his name in the 
presence of my Father and in the presence of His angels. He that 
hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. 

And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write : Thes* things 
aith the Holy [One], the True, He that hath the key of David [of 
Hades ? comp. 1 : 18], Who openeth and no one shall shut, Who shut- 
teth and no one shall open : I know thy works ; behold, I have given 
before thee a door opened, which no one is able to shut ; because thou 
hast a little strength, didat keep my word, and didst not deny my 
name. Behold, I give [those] of the synagogue of Satan, who say 
they are Jews and are not, but do lie, behold, I will make them that 
they shall eome and shall do homage before thy feet, and that they 
may know that I loved the*. Because thoa didst keep my word of 
patient endurance, I also will keep thee cut of the hour of temptation 
[the appointed season of sore trial] which is about to coma upon the 
whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth. I am coming 
quickly ; hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown. 
He that overcometh, him will I make a pillar in the temple of my 
God, and he shall go no more out of it ; and I will write upon him 
the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, tne new 
Jerusalem which cometh down out of the heaven from my God, and 
mine own new name. He that hatb an ear, let him hear what the 
Spirit saith unto the Churches. 

And to the angol of the Church of Laodiceana write : These things 
saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning [Head 
Prince] of the creation of God : I know thy works, that thon art nei 
ther cold nor hot; would thou wert cold or hot. So then because 
thoa art lukewarm, and neither oold nor hot. I am about to pu tb 


oat of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased 
with goods, and have need in nothing, and knowest not that thou art 
the wretched and the pitiable [one], and poor, and blind, and naked ; 
I counsel thee to buy from me gold refined out of the fire, that thou 
mayeat be rich ; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and 
[that] the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest ; and eye- 
salve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, 
I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore, and repent. Behold, I 
atand at the door and knock ; if any one hear my roice, and open the 
door, I will enter in to him, and will sup with him, and he shall sup 
with me. To him that overcometh will I give to sit with me on my 
throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His 

I 1ST the second and third chapters of the Apoca 
lypse, upon which we now enter, we find a 
distinct and unique section of sacred literature, 
which the learned and devout Dr. Bengel used to 
commend, above everything, to the study espe 
cially of young ministers. We call the contents 
of these chapters Epistles; but they are not so 
much messages from an absent Lord as sentences 
of a present Judge, engaged in the solemn act of 
inspection and decision. 

There is much pertaining to these sentences to 
recommend them to the particular attention of 
Christians. They are a prominent and vital part 
of the Apocalypse, which pronounces special be 
nedictions upon its attentive readers and hearers. 
Like the parables, they consist exclusively of 
Christ s own words, and are the very last which 
we have directly from Him. They are, perhaps, 
the only unabridged records of His addresses in 
our possession. They are most impressively in 
troduced, and so directly addressed as to beget 


the idea that they are something of unusual so- 
lemnity and importance. They are also accom 
panied with a seven times repeated entreaty and 
command to hear what is said in them. And yet 
there is not another portion of Scripture, of equal 
extent and conspicuity, to which so little attention 
has been paid. Strange to say, the Church has 
nowhere included 1 these Epistles in the lessons 
prescribed to be read in the public services, ex 
cept in a secondary and very remote manner. In 
the Church of England, Archbishop Trench re 
marks that it is impossible, if the canons of the 
Church be followed, for these Epistles ever to be 
read in the public services.* Though so speci 
fically and urgently addressed to the Churches, 
it would seem as if there had been some gene 
ral concert to prevent them from being seen or 

Exposition is also remarkably barren with re 
spect to these Epistles. Though in every way 
marked as of equal account with the parables, 
they have not received a tithe of the attention. 
We have hundreds of disquisitions on other spe 
cial discourses of the Saviour, where it would be 

* " It is very much to be regretted, that while every chap 
ter of every other book of the New Testament is set forth to 
be read in the Church, and, wherever there is daily service, ia 
read in the Church, three times in the year, and some, or por 
tions of some, oftener, while even of the Apocalypse itself 
two chapters and portions of others have been admitted into 
the service, under tie circumstances whatever can the second and 
third chapters ever be heard in tht congregation > Epist. to th* 
Seven h,urchK, T>. 10 


difficult to find tens devoted to these, His last and 
most solemn, dictated from heaven, superscribed 
with His own marvellous attestations, and urged 
upon all by the sevenfold admonition to hear and 
ponder what they contain. Even writers on the 
Apocalypse itself, in very many instances, have 
passed these Epistles with hardly a word of re 
mark. Erroneously assigning to them nothing 
but what concerned the particular Churches 
named, and mistakenly commencing the Apoca 
lypse proper only with the fourth or sixth chap 
ter, writers on prophecy have thought they had 
no occasion to deal with these divine letters, and 
have generally passed them by, to the utter dis 
comfiture of their attempts, without them, to un 
derstand or expound this book. 

I have already indicated the manner in which 
the seven Churches are to be viewed. They 
were literal historical Churches, existing at the 
time John wrote, but, at the same time, repre 
sentative and comprehensive of all other Churches 
of all nations, places and ages a complete sam 
ple of the whole body, in the entirety of its cha 
racter and career. And it is the same with 
reference to these seven Epistles. They are nei 
ther exactly nor only prophetic. They were 
really messages to these particular Churches, in 
view of their several conditions, to stir them up 
to hold fast what was right, and to amend what 
was wrong, as also all other Churches in like 
conditions. But as the seven Churches were 
representative and inclusive of the entire Church, 


these Epistles also give Christ s judgment of the 
entire Church, and are necessarily anticipative 
of its entire history. In other words, they give 
us, from the beginning, the exact picture of the 
whole history of the Church, as that history, 
when finished, shall present itself to the mind of 
Christ as he contemplates it from the judgment 
seat, which is really the point from which every 
thing presented in the Apocalypse is viewed. 
We may therefore read in them what was in the 
beginning, and what the career of the Church 
has been since, and will be to the end. 

The number of these Epistles is seven, corre 
sponding with the number of the Churches. 
Each one also embraces seven distinct parts: 
first, an address; second, a citation of some one 
or more of the sublime attributes of the Speaker; 
third, an assertion of His complete knowledge of 
the sphere, duties and doings of the persons ad 
dressed; fourth, a description of the state of 
each, with euch interspersions of praise and pro 
mise, or censure and admonition, as the case 
required; fifth, an allusion to His promised 
coming, and the character it will assume to the 
persons described; sixth, a universal command 
to hear; and seventh, a special promise to the 
ultimate victor. In the last four, the order of 
succession is varied from the first three, and the 
call to attention is there put after the promise "to 
him that overcometh ; " but in each these seven 
parts may be distinguished, showing that there 
is a completeness and fulness about the whole, 


which will not admit of their being confined in 
their signification to the few particular congrega 
tions to which they were originally addressed. 

But without descending into all the particulars* 
I propose to note briefly some of the teachings of 
these Epistles, considered 




1. The first Churches were very obscure assem 
blies, without badges save their common adher 
ence to Christ and obedience to his Gospel, and 
their congregation in quiet, if not in secrecy, 
around the altars of a simple worship. They 
were unnoticed by the great world, in the midst 
of which they were planted, or were observed 
only to be despised. But, neglected or perse 
cuted on earth, we see from these Epistles that 
they were considered in heaven, and had the 
very first place in the blessed Saviour s regard. 
Wonderful doings among the potencies of this 
world were about to take place. Seals were to 
be opened, at which the heavens should shake, the 
sun be darkened, the stars fall, and mountains 
and islands move from their places. Trumpets 
were to be blown, which should turn the very 
rains to hail, fire and blood, open the pit, and fill 
the earth with woe. Battles were to be fought, 
in heaven and on earth, and vials of wrath emp 
tied, and scenes enacted over which heavew 


should shout hallelujah. But in advance of all, 
and above all, the mind of the great Judge was 
on His little companies of believers, and to them 
He gave His first attention. " Write," said He, 
"and send to the seven Churches." 

2. But when we come to inspect what is writ 
ten, we find all addressed to the ministers in 
charge of these Churches. Each Epistle is writ 
ten to " the angel of the Church." What is writ- 
ten we know to be meant not for him alone, for 
the command is to every one to hear "what the 
Spirit saith to the Churches;" but we thus en 
counter an item of ecclesiastical order, binding 
up these congregations very closely with their 
pastors, and their pastors with them. This is 
important. It shows that there is a ministry an 
official order in the Christian Church, which as 
signs one angel to one congregation, and makes 
him its representative and head. The method 
by which these officers succeeded to their places, 
or the precise extent of their functions and au 
thority, is not defined. Neither is it denied, that 
what pertained preeminently to them also be 
longed subordinately to the whole company of 
believers. But a special ministerial appointment 
is recognized, as part of the sacred economy, the 
proper life, and the wholesome ongoing of the 
Church, and which no power on earth may dis 
turb without insurrection against God, and inva 
sion of the dignity of our Lord. This is a doc 
trine from which, indeed, many deplorable abuse* 


have sprung (of which we will have occasion to 
take notice), and on account of which some have 
rejected it as not of God. But it is a true doc 
trine of our holy religion, and, in its legitimate 
relations, enters essentially into the system which 
Christ has himself ordained for the bringing of 
souls to eternal life. 

3. From this peculiarity in these Epistles, we 
may also trace something of the nature and re 
sponsibility of the ministerial office. It is not a 
lordship, but a service ; not a, service to be com 
manded of man, but of God. It is the business 
of the angel to hear for the Church, receive for 
the Church, and to answer for the Church, which 
has been committed to his care. He is its chief, 
its guardian, its watchman, the under-shepherd 
of the flock. He is to receive the word at the 
mouth of the Lord, and at the hands of His in 
spired servants, and to present it faithfully to his 
people, and to see that it is accepted, observed 
and obeyed according to the true intent of its 
divine Author. Christ sends His Revelation to 
these angels above all, and looks to them for the 
right ordering of His Churches. To them He 
addresses His judgments, His rebukes, and Hip 
directions, as if the whole estate of the Churches 
were wrapped up in them, and they alone re 
sponsible for that estate. And so far as they 
keep themselves to their true sphere and work, 
whosoever heareth them heareth Him, and he 
that despiseth them despiseth Him, 


4. But these Epistles show us more particularly 
what was the moral condition of the primitive 
Churches. Nor is the exhibition what we would 
perhaps have expected. Churches founded and 
instructed by apostles, and ministered unto by 
those who were the pupils of the apostles, ap 
pointed under apostolic supervision, we would 
think to find models of every excellence, and 
pure and free from the evils, heresies and defec 
tions of later periods. But these Epistles show 
that the Churches then were much like the 
Churches now, and of all ages: that is, inter- 
minglings of good and bad, and as full of the 
workings of depravity as of the fruits of a true 
faith. There was much to commend, but quite 
as much to censure. .There were worthy sons 
and daughters of the Most High, whose conver 
sation was in heaven ; but many more whose love 
had cooled, whose hearts were in the world, who 
had a name to live but were dead, and esteemed 
themselves rich, and increased with goods, and 
needing nothing, not knowing that they were 
wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, 
and naked. With five out of the seven, Christ 
finds serious fault ; and in one of these five, He 
finds nothing whatever to commend. Two alone 
pass the solemn inspection, and they in contact 
with elements which He quite condemns. 

The first and most distinguished was that of 
Ephesus. This Church was characterized by 
strong impulse toward God, earnestness, and 
zeal, and yet with a giving way in these qualities 


from what they were at first. This is signified 
in the word eyws, which thus exactly fits to the 
description. He who holds the seven stars, and 
walks in the midst of the candlesticks, found in 
Ephesus works, labor, endurance, steadfast oppo 
sition to evil, faithfulness and firmness in disci 
pline, cheerfulness in bearing any burden tor 
Christ s sake, and a just hatred of deeds and 
practices which Christ also hates. But He found 
there also this defect, which called for repent 
ance and return to first works, if they would riot 
be unchurched entirely: namely, that they had 
left their first love. There is such a thing as 
having and exercising a sharp penetration into 
the true and the false, a correctness of judgment 
in sacred things, a zealous and self-sacrificing 
devotion to the right and true, and an earnest- 
minded severance from false apostles and all evil 
doers, and yet being without that warmth and 
purity of love which is the first impulse in the 
breast of young disciples, and without which, 
well cherished and kept in vigorous life, there is 
unfitness to meet the judgment or to stand in it 
And this was the sorry fault of the Church of 
Ephesus. Of course, it was not the estate of 
every particular member that is thus described. 
There were Smyrnaotes and Philadelphians in 
Ephesus also ; but their number was few, and the 
prevailing characteristic of the whole together 
was great zeal for truth and right, with a love in 
fatal decline. 

Smyrna is a word three times translated in the 

158 ?K> APOOALYPS*. 

STew Testament, (Matt. 2:11; Mark 15:28; 
John 19 : 39.) It signifies myrrh, an aromatic 
exudation from a thorny tree, which furnished 
one of the ingredients of the holy ointment, and 
was used by the ancients in embalming the dead. 
It had associated with it the idea of something 
grateful to God, and connected also with death 
and resurrection. It well describes a Church 
persecuted unto death, and lying embalmed in 
the precious spices of its sufferings, auch as the 
Church of Smyrna was. It was the Church of 
Myrrh, or bitterness, and yet agreeable and pre 
cious unto the Lord, holy in the midst of its tri 
bulations, and full of blessed hopes for the world 
to which the resurrection is to bring the saints. 
Nothing of complaint is said of this Church ; but 
neither are any special works or achievements 
enumerated to its praise, whilst the presence of 
an evil synagogue is affirmed. A poor Church, 
in the midst of persecution and suffering, cannot 
be expected to do much. To endure steadfastly 
is, then, all that can be looked for, and is worthy 
of highest commendation. From two sources 
did these troubles spring: from blaspheming 
Jews, and from intolerant Pagans ; both actuated 
by the devil. When Polycarp was tried and 
martyred (whom some regard as the angel of the 
Church here addressed), we are told that the 
Jews joined with the heathen in clamoring for 
the good bishop s destruction, and were the most 
forward in bringing the fuel for the fire which 
eonsumed him. These Jews were blasphemers, 

LICTUBB VI. CHAPS. 2-3- 159 

in the enmity and contempt which they felt and 
enacted against Christ and His people ; and they 
were false Jews, and a mere Satanic synagogue, 
because of that blasphemy. "For he is not a 
Jew which is one outwardly; but he is a Jew 
who is one inwardly." It was thus a two-horned 
Antichrist by which this little Church was gored, 
bereft, oppressed and trampled ; a Church desti 
tute, powerless, crushed, but rich in divine grace, 
pleasing to God, and comforted with joyous 
hopes for the world to come, though having no 
thing but suffering to expect in this. 

Pergamos carries in its etymology the idea of a 
tower, and also of marriage.* It well describes 
a Church in close proximity to the centre of the 
kingdom of evil, and yielding itself to sensual 
alliances. And such was the Church at Perga 
mos. There was Satan s throne, the darkest 
centre of Pagan abominations. It had faith, and 
courage, and endurance, and faithful witnesses to 
Christ ; but it had also some of the worst of ele 
ments. It had those who held to a system of 
ideas answering to the treacherous teachings of 
Balaam, by which Israel was seduced to fornica 
tion and idolatry. It had also those who held to 
another system of ideas involving tyrannical lord 
ship over the Church: Nicolaitanes, or people- 
conquerors. It was a Church with a tower of un 
righteous assumption in it, and indulgently com- 

* Donegan gives />, a tower; ><M*C, marriage; T 
signifies things lofty or high. 


pliant with the adulterous solicitations and cm- 
braces of worldliness. "With all its saintship and 
fidelity, it had need to repent if it would have 
the approbation of the Lord. It was a Church 
of much praiseworthy fidelity, but with wicked 
pretences to loftiness and power on the part of 
some, and base alliances with what was earthly 
and Satanic, on the part of others. 

The Church in Thyatira had some o^ the same 
excellencies, but conjoined with even worse de 
fects. It was active in services and charities, 
patient in reliance upon God s promises, and in 
creasingly vigorous in its endeavors ; but it was 
lacking in proper zeal for the maintenance of 
godly discipline and doctrine, and was so indulg 
ent toward errors and errorists that falsehood 
and idolatry permeated, overlaid and modified 
the whole character of the Church, obscuring the 
faith, deceiving the saints, and setting up in its 
very midst the infamous school of Satan himself. 
"With all that is said commendatory of this 
Church, the idea of effeminacy connects with its 
whole history and character. The first Christian 
in Thyatira was a woman. The name, Thyatira, 
some take as equivalent to thygatira, a daughter. 
If we take it as a compound of fc^a-ny? and rei/ow, 
we get the idea of feminine oppression. The 
false prophets who first enticed the members of 
this Church into apostasy were women. And 
the great fault which Christ finds with these 
Christians is their toleration of the false pre 
tences, the miserable domination, and the abomi- 


nable doings, of one whom He designates as 
"that woman Jezebel," who, like her namesake 
of old, seems to have borne down what should 
have been the governing will, get aside the true 
prophets of God with her falsities, and entirely 
taken possession of the Church for her own im 
purities. It was a Church with much activity of 
faith and love, but lying in the embraces of an 
adulteress, and, for the most part, completely in 
her power. 

The name of the fifth of these Churches has 
been variously derived. Some connect it with 
the precious stone, called sarda, which was found 
about Sardis, and sometimes used as an amulet 
to drive away fear, give boldness, inspire cheerful 
ness, sharpen wit, and protect against witchcraft 
and sorceries. Others have derived it from the 
Hebrew, and have assigned it the signification of 
remnant, or an escaped few. Ebrard finds for it an 
etymological derivation denoting something new, 
or renewed. And there is a further explanation 
which derives it from a word which denotes a 
builder s rule, or measuring line. These several 
explanations, though different, are not antago 
nistic, as applied to the condition of a Church. 
They can be very well combined in one picture. 
Courage and boldness imply great conflict and 
danger. In a great contest, many would be van 
quished, but a remnant would escape. Those 
surviving and escaping would necessarily involve 
new features of life and regime. And in this 
process of renewal there would appropriately 

VOL. I. 11 

come in the use of the carpenter s rule in fash 
ioning the new edifice. "We accordingly see in 
this Church comparative freedom from the sor 
ceries of the domineering prophetess of Thyatira, 
and an account of things remaining as though 
they had with difficulty been saved from some 
far-reaching and crippling danger, and of some 
names which had clean escaped from the abound 
ing defilements. The ideas of newness from old 
degeneracies, and of the true rule re-given for 
the new order, run through the entire descrip 
tion. But with all, the boasted new life was in 
many things but name, and not reality. These 
Sardians had heard and received that which was 
right and good ; but they did not properly hold 
or improve what had been given them, and be 
came dead in the very forms and attirements of 
the new life. Having defied and escaped the 
sorceress, they suffered their garments to drag in 
other defilements. There were some noble ex 
ceptions, whom Christ pronounces worthy, and 
who are to walk with Him in white, and whose 
names He will confess before the Father and Hie 
angels, because they were not ashamed to confess 
Him, and to stand true to His pure Gospel in its 
spirit and life ; but in a large part, the Church of 
Sardis was but a drooping plant and a dead car 
cass. It started fresh and new ; it had heard and 
received that to which it is the true life of saints 
to hold; but it soon had more profession than 
vitality, and more boastfulness than purity or 

LKCTUEK VI. CHAPS. 2-*. 168 

The Church in Philadelphia shows no inter- 
minglings of evil, but is addressed as if em 
bracing only a small exceptional company of 
acknowledged ones in the midst of a larger body 
who are no longer recognized as strictly a part 
of Christ s Church. They are spoken of as hav 
ing kept His word, and not denied His name : as 
though many had failed in these particulars, and 
so lost their place in the acknowledged Christian 
body. These Philadelphians were but a little 
flock, poor in worldly goods, and of small ac 
count in the eyes of men. They had but little 
strength, and were greatly oppressed by heretical 
teachers and pretenders; but they held fast to 
the word of Christ, in patient waiting for His 
promise. They were an exceptional band, joined 
by cords of loving fraternity, as the meaning of 
the word is, and they had promises given them 
of special exemptions and special triumphs. 

Very different was the Church of Laodicea. 
Here was nothing to commend, though having in 
it a few suffering ones whom Christ loves and 
chastens. Its name* designates it as the Church 
of mob rule, the democratic Church, in which 
everything is swayed and decided by popular 
opinion, clamor and voting; and hence a self- 
righteous and self-sufficient Church. It is de 
scribed as thinking itself the perfection of 
Churches. It said in its heart, " I am rich, and 
increased with goods, and have need in nothing; " 

* AWflM<, from XMOC, people, and /uw, judgment, or justio* 


but never was a body of people o wofully self- 
deluded. With all this boastfulness, the faithful 
and true "Witness found nothing whicn He could 
abide, and pronounces them wretched, and * piti 
able, and poor, and blind, and naked, and about 
to be vomited up and cast out. 

We thus find all sorts and shades of intermin 
gled or coexistent good and evil in the Church 
of that day. Some were priestridden, and on 
that account condemned; and some were mob- 
ridden, and hence unsatisfactory to Christ. Some 
had great zeal for pure doctrine and godly disci 
pline, whilst they failed in the important element 
of love and charity ; and others, with much faith 
and beneficence, yet permitted the manlier things 
of doctrine, and the ruling out of impurity, to be 
overlaid by the false pretences and dominations 
of lewd effeminacy. Some in their sufferings 
were faultless, but feeble; and others in their 
prosperity were strong, but dead and corrupt. 
There was true faith, and false faith, and some 
times no faith. There were schisms, and here 
sies, and sects, as well as devout works, and 
noble self-sacrifices, and instances of fidelity unto 
death. There were children of the kingdom and 
children of the wicked one, wheat and tares, 
truths and errors, ains and sanctities, then as 
now, and as in all intervening ages. The leaven 
of evil was even then already working in the 
woman s meal, and the birds of impurity finding 
lodgment in the branches of the springing tree. 


5. We may also notice, in this connection, the 
stress which our blessed Lord lays upon the prac 
tical features of religion. It is upon these that 
His commendations and censures turn. What 
He praises in the Ephesians is their labor, their 
endurance, their resistance of evil, their patience, 
their courageous perseverance in well doing; and 
what He proposed as the remedy for their de 
fects, was that they should return to first works. 
Love, ministries, patience, labors, works: these 
are the things to which He refers with most de 
light, as the marks of the true election, and the 
proper badges of approved saintship. It is in 
vain to boast of a correct creed, of right theories, 
of sound doctrine, if there be no practical godli 
ness, no good works, no positive virtues and 
active charities and labors. Orthodoxy is im 
portant, but orthodoxy alone will not do The 
most orthodox in this list is depictured as the 
deadest. Mere ecstacies, pleasant frames joyous 
feelings, loud professions, or dreams that we are 
rich in grace and in the divine favor, will not do ; 
for the most ecstatic and the best pleai,ed with 
itself, among these Churches, was the worst. 
There must be faith, and a true faith ; bat also a 
living, working, bearing, self-denying faith a 
faith which shows its life and power by love, by 
charities, by gracious ministries, by active ser 
vices and sacrifices for God. Persecutions and 
Bufferings may cut off opportunity for such dis 
plays, as winter overlies and locks up the germs 
and life-powers of nature, and hides them from 


orir view ; but, as spring-time and Bnmmer bring 
those hidden germs to light, and cause them to 
put forth and fill the face of heaven with joyous 
freshness, beauty and fruit, so must true piety in 
the soul show itself in the life, in good deeds, in 
devoted endeavors, in a loving spirit, and in 
faithful standing to the truth, whatever might be 
the cost or storms. 

There are, indeed, such things as " dead works;" 
works that have no life-connection with piety; 
works put on from without, and not brought forth 
from within ; fruits tied upon the tree, and not 
the product of its life; which are not at all 
characteristics of true religion. There may be 
prayers, vigils, fasts, temples, altars, priests, rites, 
ceremonies, worship, and still be no true piety. 
Heathenism has all these. There may be Chris 
tian profession, connection with the Church, ob 
servance of the sacraments, where saving religion 
has never taken root. None of these things alone 
characterize a Christian. That which distin 
guishes him, where all other tests fail, is his 
living, active love to God and man his CHARITY. 
If this be lacking, the defect is fatal. All know 
ledge, all faith, all mastery of tongues, all mira 
culous powers, cannot atone for such a deficiency. 
For "pure religion, and undefiled before God 
and the Father, is this : to visit the fatherless and 
widows in their affliction, and to keep unspotted 
from the world." 

6. These Epistles further set before us Chriafi 


use of the great doctrine of His return, and the 
very high place it occupies among the motives to 
penitence, hope, steadfastness and godly fear. In 
this respect, the language of the blessed Lord 
harmonizes exactly with that of His inspired ser 
vants. Finding the Ephesians cooling in their 
love, He enjoined on them a speedy repentance 
and return to their first works, lest His coming 
should suddenly overtake them. The suffering 
Smyrnaotes, though taught to look for naught 
but tribulation in this world, were exhorted to be 
faithful in view of the crowns which it is assigned 
to that day to bring. The Pergamites were plied 
with it as an object of just dread to them, in con 
sequence of their Balaamite and Kicolaitane doc 
trines, and as the great incentive to immediate 
repentance. The believers of Thyatira were re 
ferred to it as the motive for holding fast to the 
faith, and as an event which was to end their 
struggles and temptations. The Sardians are 
commanded to remember how they had received 
and heard, and to hold fast, and repent, and 
watch, on pain of having their Lord and Judge 
come upon them as a thief, which is contemplated 
as the worst of calamities. To the Philadel- 
phians it is announced, as a subject of comfort 
and hope, that Christ shall quickly come. And 
to the Laodiceans He is represented as already 
present, knocking at the door, prepared to bless 
those ready to receive Him, but about to eject 
with loathing the lukewarm masses who fail ID 
fervency arid timely repentance. 


Some tell us that death is, to all intents and 
purposes, the coming of Christ to the individual, 
and that we are to comfort and exhort men with 
reference to their mortality. But that is not the 
method of Christ in these Epistles. With the 
exception of the one to Smyrna, there is no hint 
that there was any such thing as death for any of 
those who really believed. I have my doubts 
whether the Scriptures warrant any Christian in 
expecting to die at all. Paul, in several places, 
has taught us most specifically that there are 
Christians who shall never die. Such of Christ s 
waiting and watching people as shall be alive and 
remaining at the time of Christ s coming, are not 
to sleep, not to die, but to be suddenly trans 
figured and caught up to the clouds, to meet the 
Lord in the air. (1 Thess. 4 : 17.) And as Christ 
may come in any of these passing generations, I 
cannot see how true Christians of any generation 
can reconcile it to the Scriptures to count upon 
dying. Death, to the saint, is not that certainty 
which it is sometimes represented ; nor is it of a 
character to impress and comfort as the doctrine 
of Christ s coming, in power and glory, to give 
deliverance to His sighing and dying creation, 
and dominion to His saints. It is to that coming, 
therefore, and the translation of the watching and 
faithful without tasting of death, and of the glo 
rious honors into which it is to induct the patient 
waiters for it, and the fearful disasters which it is 
to bring upon the unprepared, that the Scriptures 
everywhere refer us, and upon which the Saviour 

LKOTURS VI. CHAPS. 2-8. 169 

Himself relies in all His exhortations to the seven 

And if this was the proper method eighteen 
hundred years ago, when that coming of the 
coming One was yet so many centuries in the 
future, how much more is it the proper method 
now that threescore generations have passed, and 
that we have come to the very margin of the 
great occurrence! People may call it idiosyn 
crasy in us, that we persist in preaching the near 
and speedy coming of Christ ; but, after all, we 
only preach as He did when it would seem to 
have been less in place than now, and as all His 
inspired apostles also preached when they were 
yet eighteen centuries further from the event 
than we are. And if some will have it a sort of 
amiable hallucination under which we are labor 
ing, it is sufficient for our consolation that the 
blessed Saviour has trod this path, "leaving us an 
example that we should follow His steps." 

7. There are also important and most interest 
ing hints in these Epistles, respecting the future 
life and honors which the coming of Christ is to 
bring to the redeemed. Each Epistle has a pro 
mise to a particular victor. These several pro 
mises unitedly give us at least a seven-sided view 
of the future possessions of the saints. To the 
Ephesian victor Christ awards " to eat from off 
the tree of life which is in the midst of the para 
dise of God." To him who abides faithful amid 
the Smyrna trials, is awarded "the crown of life, 


and exemption from the second death/ To the 
victor of Pergamoe is awarded "the hidden 
manna, and a white pebble engraved with a new 
name which no one knoweth saving he that re- 
ceiveth it." The victor of Thyatira is to havt 
" authority over the nations, to rule them with a 
sceptre of iron," and to receive "the morning 
star." The victor of Sardis is to be "clothed 
with white raiment, and walk with Christ in 
white," and have his name continued upon the 
book of life, and confessed in the presence of the 
Father and of the holy angels. The victor of 
Philadelphia is to be made a pillar in the temple 
of God, never again to go out, and to have the 
name of God written upon him, and the name of 
the new Jerusalem, the city of God, and the new 
name of Christ himself. And to the victor of 
Laodicea is the highest promise of all, even to 
sit with Christ on His throne, as Christ overcame 
and sitteth with the Father on His throne. 

Have we here seven orders of rewards, to seven 
orders of Christians, succeeding in their triumph 
through seven orders of surroundings ? Or have 
we here seven steps or degrees in the. rewards of 
the saints, unto which each one attains ? Or have 
we really both? They rise in degree from the 
first to the last, as do the evils and the adversities 
over which the victories are achieved. They also 
seem to have been framed in the light of the 
whole sweep of God s varied dispensations, from 
the days of Adam onward, until Christ shall hare 
reinstated His saints in the fruition of all that 


Adam lost. The first refers to a readmission to 
a paradise and a tree of life, answering to, if not 
the very same from which Adam was excluded. 
The next proclaims a triumph over the afflictions, 
and an exemption from the death, which pertain 
to the state of expulsion from paradise and the 
tree of life. The third throws open the same or 
like storehouses out of which the pilgrim He 
brews were sustained in the wilderness, and im 
parts the engraved and shining jewel, as on 
Aaron s breastplate, which admits as a priest 
into the presence-chamber of the Lord. The 
fourth promises authority and judicial adminis 
trations upon nations, which find their type in 
Joshua s and David s and Solomon s victories 
and reigns, with an addition the exact nature of 
which I have not been able to penetrate.* And 
having thus exhausted the range of the dispensa 
tions of the past, the next three move forward to 
things predicted of the future. The promise to 
the victor of Sardis links itself with the solemni 
ties which are to end this world : with the resur 
rection, the opening of the books, and the official 
acknowledgment of those whose names are in 
the registry of the faithful. The next takes its 
elements from the setting up of a new kingdom, 
and a new city, and rights of celestial citizenship, 
and a temple, not made with hands, eternal in 

* I have since thought the promise to refer to the exalted 
position of those saints who are joined with Christ in the judg 
ment of the world, which heralds and brings the final consum 
mation as the morning- star the day. 


the heavens. Whilst the last conducts to a point 
of settlement and dominion beyond which there 
is nothing higher to he imagined or desired: 
even session with Christ upon His everlasting 

But in whatever way we take these promises, 
they set before us a body of honor, and privilege, 
and power, and blessedness, greater than eye 
hath seen, or ear heard, or the heart of man con 
ceived. It has been well observed that these 
seven promises together, in their twofold aspect, 
form by far the completest description to be 
found in all the Word of God, of what good 
things they are which God has prepared for them 
that love Him.* They set before us a destiny to 
which the faithful shall attain, at which the lean, 
meagre, shallow, shadowy, flimsy thing some pre 
sent as heaven, sinks into insipidity and contempt. 
They present us with something fitting and com 
petent to brace up the courage of the Church, to 
carry her to the pitch of bearing the cross, and 
crucifying herself with Christ, and actualizing 
her professed expatriation from this world. They 
open to us prospects which put upon the common 
places of heavenly anticipation the disgrace and 
shame of scarcely having caught the first syllables 
of what is laid up for the true saints of God. 
But we have not time to dwell here, or even to 
touch sundry other topics suggested by these Epis 
tles, in their relation to the particular Churches 

* RT. Wm. Lincoln, " Jayelin of Phinew," p. 149, 


addressed, The consideration of these Churches, 
in their representative and prophetic character, 
we therefore necessarily must defer to another 
occasion. Meanwhile, let us think of the stand 
ard which the Saviour has here set up for His 
people, and seek to animate ourselves to the zeal, 
self-sacrifice and devotion which alone can secure 
the prize here held out for our attainment. 

Must Jesus bear the cross alone, 

And all the world go free ? 
No, there s a cross for every one, 

And there s a cross for me. 

How happy are the saints above, 
Who once were sorrowing here J 

They ever taste unmingled love, 
And joy without a tear. 

The consecrated cross I ll bear, 
Till Christ shall set me free, 
And then go home, my crown to wear, -- 




RJT. 3 : 21. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit 
saith unto the Churches. 

TTTE have glanced over the contents of these 
* Epistles, considered in relation to the par 
ticular Churches addressed. But this is not the 
only nor the chief aspect in which they are to he 
viewed. As I have repeatedly affirmed, these 
particular Churches have a representative charac 
ter, comprehending the entire Church of all 
places and ages. It is impossible to find an ade 
quate reason why only these seven were written 
to in this manner, except upon this assumption. 
The number is that significant of dispenaational 
fulness, entire completeness. The Saviour speaks 
of them as involving some sort of "mystery," 

LECTURE VII. CHAP. 5:21. 175 

having significance beyond what appears upon 
the surface. The command to hear and consider 
what is said is given with such urgency and uni 
versality, as to argue something peculiarly signifi 
cant to all people of all time. Much of the Ian- 
guage is symbolically applied, and fits and receives 
a comprehensive lucidness, in a prophetic accep 
tation, which it is not otherwise found to possess. 
These seven Epistles are also a very prominent 
and vital part of a book which is specifically 
described as a book of prophecy. (Chap. 1:3; 22 : 
18.) There is also an evident historical consecu- 
tiveriess in the several pictures, as well as contem 
poraneousness ; and such a complete successive 
realization of them can be traced in the subse 
quent history of the Church, even down to the 
present, that it seems to me impossible fairly to get 
rid of the conclusion, that these seven Churches 
were selected as affording, in their respective 
names, states, wants, and messages, a prefigura- 
tion of the entire Church in its successive phases 
from the time John wrote to the end of its his 
tory. Joseph Mede has well presented the case, 
where he says : " If we consider their number, 
being seven (which is the number of revolution 
of times, and therefore in this book the seals, 
trumpets and vials also are seven) ; or if we con 
sider the choice of the Holy Ghost, in that He 
taketh neither all, no, nor the most famous 
Churches then in the world, as Antioch, Alexan 
dria, Borne, and many others, and such, no doubt, 
as had need of instruction as well as those here 


named ; if these things be well considered, it will 
seem that these seven Churches, besides their 
literal respect, were intended to be as patterns 
and types of the several ages of the Catholic 
Church from the beginning thereof unto the 
end of the world ; that so these seven Churches 
should prophetically sample unto us a sevenfold 
successive temper and condition of the whole 
visible Church, according to the several ages 
thereof, answering the pattern of the seven 
Churches here."* 

Receiving this, then, as the truth in the case, I 
now take up the topic deferred when we last had 
this subject before us, and proceed to note some 
of the teachings of these Epistles, considered 


And so important and far-reaching is the sub 
ject, that it becomes us to approach it with 
solemn hearts, and to pray God to aid us with His 
enlightening grace, that we may indeed hear, 
mark, learn and inwardly digest what the Spirit 
saith unto the Churches. 

* Mode s Works, Book V, chap. 10, p. 90. So also An 
dreas, one of the earliest writers on the Apocalypse: it* T 

i/?4/irurv dpldpri rt ptwrurtfi dbrwx# licK\ntiw ntumlvttv. So also 

Vitringa (Anac. Apoc. p. 82): Omnino igitur existimo Spi- 
ritum 8. sub typo et emblemate septem Ecclesiarum ASMS 
nobis mystice et prophetice voluisse depingere septem vari- 
antes status Ecclesiae Christianas, quibus successive conapice- 
retur, eto. See also Augustine, (Epitt. 49: 2,) and Cocceius. 


1. Viewing these Epistles, then, as descriptive 
of the entire Church, I find in them this item of 
fact: that the professed Church, as pronounced 
upon by Christ himself, is a mixed society, em 
bracing interminglings of good and evil from its 
beginning to the end. Whether we take the 
seven Churches as significant of seven successive 
or as seven coexisting phases, they must needs 
reach to the end, and so depicture the entire 
Church. And aa there is not one of these Epis 
tles in which the presence of evil is not recog 
nized, so there can be no period in the earthly 
history of the Church in which it is without bad 
admixtures. Whether the Ephesian Church ex 
tends, as in some sense it must, from the apostolic 
era to the consummation, or whether it relates 
mainly to the first period alone, and the Laodi 
cean the last, we still have a vast deal which the 
Lord and Judge of the Church condemns, stretch 
ing its dark image from the commencement to 
the close. There were fallen ones, and some 
whose love had cooled, and some whose first 
works had been abandoned, and some giving 
place to the base deeds of the Kicolaitanes, and 
some false ones claiming to be apostles and were 
not, even among the warm, patient, fervent, en 
during and faithful Ephesians. In Smyrna were 
faithless blasphemers, and those of Satan s syna 
gogue, as well as faithful, suffering ones, and 
those whom Christ is to crown in heaven. In 
Pergamos were those who denied the faith, and 
followed the treacherous teachings of Balaam, 

VOL,. I. 12 


and the doctrines of the detested Nicoiaitanes, a 
well as those who held fast the name of Jesus, 
and witnessed for Him unto death. In Thyatira, 
we find a debauching and idolatrous Jezebel and 
her death-worthy children, and multitudes of spi 
ritual adulterers, as well as those whose works, 
and faith, and charity, and patience are noted 
with favor, and who had not been drawn into 
Satan s depths. In Sardis there was incomplete 
ness, deadness, defalcation, need for repentance, 
and threatened judgment, as well as names of 
those who had not defiled their garments. In 
Philadelphia we discover " the synagogue of Sa 
tan," falsifiers, those who had settled themselves 
upon the earth, and such as had not kept Christ s 
word, as well as such as should be kept from the 
gifting trial, and advanced to celestial crowns. 
And in Laodicea there was found disgusting 
lukewarmness, empty profession, and base self- 
conceit, with Christ himself excluded. 

Never, indeed, has there been a sowing of God 
on earth, but it has been oversown by Satan ; or 
a growth for Christ, which the plantings of the 
wicked one did not mingle with and hinder. God 
sowed good seed in Paradise ; but when it came 
to the harvest, the principal product was tares. 
At earth s first altar appeared the murderer with 
the saint Cain with Abel. God had His sons 
before the flood; but more numerous were the 
children of the wicked one. And in all ages and 
dispensations, the plants of grace have ever found 
the weeds upspringing by their sides, their roots 

VII. CHAP. 3:21 

intertwining, and their stalks and leaves and 
fruits putting forth together. The Church is not 
an exception, and never will be, as long as the 
present dispensation lasts. Even in its first and 
purest periods, as the Scriptural accounts attest, 
it was intermixed with what pertained not to it. 
There was a Judas among its apostles ; an Ana 
nias and a Simon Magus among its first converts; 
a Demas and a Diotrephes among its first public 
servants. And as long as it continues in this 
world, Christ ; will have His Antichrist, and the 
temple of God its men of sin. He who sets out 
to find a perfect Church, in which there are no 
unworthy elements and no disfigurations, pro 
poses to himself a hopeless search. Go where 
he will, worship where he may, in any country, 
in any age, he will soon find tares among the 
wheat, sin mixing in with all earthly holiness; 
self-deceivers, hypocrites and unchristians in 
every assembly of saints; Satan insinuating him 
self into every gathering of the sons of God to 
present themselves before the Lord. No preach 
ing, however pure ; no discipline, however strict 
or prudent ; no watchfulness, however searching 
and faithful, can ever make it different. Paul 
told the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord 
should not come until there came a falling away 
first, and an extraordinary manifestation of sin 
and guilt in the Church itself; and assured them 
that that embodied apostasy was to live and work 
on until the Lord himself should come and de 
stroy it by the manifestation of His own personal 


presence. The Saviour himself has taught us, 
that in the Gospel field wheat and tares are to be 
found ; that it is forbidden to pluck up the bad, 
lest the good also be damaged ; and that both are 
to "grow together until the harvest," which is 
the end of the economy the winding up of the 
present order of things "the end of this 

2. But I further ascertain from these Epistles, 
that, in Christ s judgment of the Church, the 
evil that is in it is constantly cumulative and 
growing. The first of nearly everything in the 
Scriptures is mostly considered the best ; and so 
the Church was purest at its beginning. As He- 
gisippus has said, " The virgin purity of the 
Church was confined to the days of the apostles." 
The further centuries carry it from its first years, 
the more of its original excellence does it lose, 
and the more apostate does it become. It was BO 
before the flood. It was so in the Jewish econ 
omy. And it is so in our dispensation. If these 
seven Churches represent so many phases or 
states of the Church general, those phases or 
states must also be successive, as well as coexist 
ent. And if successive, then they must succeed 
each other in the order in which Christ has put 
them: the first first, and the last last. The 
Church in Ephesus thus becomes descriptive of 
the first phase or period ; that in Smyrna of the 
gecond; that in Pergamos of a third; that in 
Thyatira of a fourth ; and so to the ^nd. View- 


ing them, then, ID this order, we can readily 
identify the growth of evil, from its first incom 
ing, through its various stages, to its final culmi 
nation. Indeed, these seven Epistles are so many 
photographs of apostasy, taken at different pe 
riods of its life, from its infancy to its maturity. 

In the first Epistle, the Lord puts his finger 
upon the origin of the mischief. Here is depic 
tured a first and model estate, which is described 
as that of "first love." From that "first love" 
the Saviour notes a decline. This is the first 
picture. It was in the very hearts of Christ s 
own people that all corruptions of Christianity 
and apostasy began. " Thou hast left thy first 
love" It is to the heart that Christ traces all 
evils. And it is according to the estate of the 
heart that He judges of us. Where love de 
clines, bad practices soon creep in. The Ephe- 
sians waned in original fervor, and soon were 
troubled with those who departed from the sim 
plicities of the Gospel, betook themselves to 
Jewish and Pagan intermixtures, and began to 
put forward the ministry as a sort of priestly 
class, depreciating and setting aside the laity. 
Of these were Diotrephes, who coveted preemi 
nence ; and those of whom Peter disapproved, as 
undertaking to be " lords over God s heritage;" 
and those whom Paul resisted, as seeking to 
transfer to Christianity what pertained to the 
Jewish ritualism and Pagan philosophy. These 
were the " Nicolaitanes,"* whose "deeds" are 

* From *, to vanquish, and **, people, or laity. 


singled out for reprehension. But so long as the 
apostles lived, their influence was inconsiderable. 
At first, they had but few followers and small 
success. It was not long, however, as Church 
history shows,* until they gained adherents and 
force, and laid the foundations of all subsequent 
defections and troubles. What in the first pic 
ture wan feeble, and vigorously resisted, and 
found only in isolated cases, in the second picture 
has already grown to be a distinguished and in 
fluential party, whose utterances are heard and 
felt, and which is now characterized as a " syna 
gogue of Satan." And in the third picture, 
what were only "deeds" have come to be taken 
up as doctrine. The false practices now appear in 
the shape of an article of faith. What had pre 
viously been kept pretty well at bay, is now found 
nestled in the very heart of the Church. What 
in the first picture was hated and withstood, is 
now tolerated, and seeiningly cherished. And to 
it is added another feature, equally condemned 
by the Saviour, and equally favored by many of 
these Pergamites. To the Nicolaitanes are added 
Balaamites : destroyers of the people, as well as 
vanquishers of them, as the meaning of the word 
Balaam is.f The sin of that prophet was, that 
he counselled with the enemies of Israel, and ad 
vised the drawing of them into forbidden friend 
ships and adulterous and idolatrous alliances^ by 
means of which "twenty and four thousand" 

* Se Mosheim s Ecc. Hist., Cent. I, Part II, chap. 6, 
f From j?S2, destruction, and QJ^ people. 


destroyed. (Numb. 25 : 9.) The Pergamite 
Church had those who counselled like unlawful 
unions between the Church and its powerful ene 
mies, thus repeating the apostate prophet, who 
taught Bakk to seduce Israel to sin. And what 
ever interpretation of the matter we accept, it 
bears the condemnation of Christ, and in His 
view so unfavorably characterizes the Pergamites 
as to furnish a picture of most fearful advances in 
the inroads of evil. 

And the next view gives us a still further ad 
vance in the same disastrous tendencies. Here 
is a heathen, impure and bloody woman, exalted 
to queenly dominion over God s people, govern 
ing them, and domineering over them, and draw 
ing them away into spiritual harlotry and abomi 
nation. She is even taken to the bosom of the 
very angel of the Church, and suffered to assume 
the prerogatives of a prophetess to the people, 
though in reality another Jezebel. Have we not 
here the plain and indubitable evidences of con 
tinuity and growth in evil, defection, and apos 
tasy ? From the gradual decline of first love we 
have one steady and onward march, till that line 
of development reaches its climax in the scarlet 

But now comes a new and reactionary move 
ment. The pure Gospel is reproduced, once 
more heard, and largely received. The old and 
corrupt order of things is not overthrown or su 
perseded, but a remnant escapes from it, and 
starts out upon & career of fresh life in a new 


order. But notwithstanding the re-announce 
ment of the Gospel, and the many noLle names 
whom God enabled to clear their skirts of the 
abounding and terrific abomination s, the growth 
of evil, though it took another direction, was not 
stopped. The renewal was hindered, and the 
works of the Sardians did not come to perfection. 
Christ does not find them complete before God. 
What was "received and heard" was not pro 
perly remembered and held. The things which 
were preierred were left to droop, ready to fall 
into the embrace of death. The new life that 
had been engendered wag soon enfeebled and 
brought to languishment. And under the name 
and boast of life, there was death. The old was 
not changed, and the new which had escaped out 
of it was stagnant and lifeless. Evil had gained 
a new victory on a new field. Christendom had 
completed a new phase, and was one step further 
in its process of ripening for ultimate rejection. 

Another is described, in which the work of 
God is revived and thriving in many hearts, who 
are drawn together in united efforts and broth 
erly affection. An open door of usefulness in 
the spread of the truth is set before them, which 
no one can shut They show a little strength, 
and in poverty and self-denial hold fast to the 
word and the name of Christ. But they are an 
exceptional band of brothers in the Lord. About 
them are the great multitudes of nominal Chris 
tians, dwelling upon the earth, and comfortably 
settled down in its good things, who require the 

LECTURE VII. OHAP. 3:21. 185 

sifting of great trial to bring them to even a tol 
erable Christianity. And besides, there is a great 
nerd of errorists and liars, who wear the profes 
sion of Christians, but are really "the synagogue 
of Satan." 

One other picture is added, and it is the worst. 
In the first four, the progress of mischief is in 
the line of consolidation and concentration of 
power, with all its abuses. In the last three, the 
reverse obtains, and the evil runs in the line of 
disintegration, separation, and individualism, un 
til finally each man comes to be pretty much his 
own Church. The Laodicean Church is not the 
Church in Laodicea, as in the other cases, but 
"the Church of Laodiceans."* It would seem aa 
if the Church, in its proper character of an elect 
company, had quite faded from view, and the 
world itself had now become the Church. The 
confessing body ie hardly any longer distinguish 
able from any other body. It is neither one thing 
nor the other " neither cold nor hot." And yet, 
in pride and boastfulness, hypocrisy and self-de 
ception, there never has been its like. It claims 
to be rich, and increased with goods, and having 
need in nothing, and yet is the wretched and 
pitiable, and poor, and blind, and naked. It 
thinks itself all it ought to be, and appropri 
ates to itself all divine favor and blessedness; 
and yet, the very Lord in whom it professes to 

* ErXi<c A-o&wwv. Some of tfc* MSB., hwTr, krrt 
m> Awtt*if, the same &a in the other instaaeet. 


truEt is denied a place in it, and is represented as 
barred out, where He stands and knocks as His 
last gracious appeal before giving over the infa 
mous Babylon to the judgments which are ready 
to sweep it from the earth. That which started 
as a little band of loving, self-sacrificing and per 
secuted saints, redeemed out of the world, and no 
longer of it, comes to be a vast, wide-spread, cha 
racterless, Christless, conceited thing, to which 
Jehovah says, " JT am about te spue out of my 

We may trace this continuous growth of eccle 
siastical evil, also, in the varying attitude and 
conduct of the Saviour toward these several 
Churches. To the first, He utters himself in the 
utmost gentleness. He first commends with 
great satisfaction, and then rebukes with great 
mildness and reluctance. Much the same tone is 
maintained in the second Epistle, with a stronger 
insinuation with reference to the closer and more 
potent presence of a body of Judaizers, whom 
He denounces as blasphemers. But in the third, 
His words gather sharpness, and the angel of the 
Church of Pergamos is reproved with an inten 
sity of displeasure and condemnation for the first 
time seen, and which heightens with the next. 
" Thou hast there those who hold the teaching of 
Balaam. . . . Thou thyself also hast those who 
hold the doctrine of the Xicolaitanes." And in 
the fourth Epistle, besides the sweeping severity 
of His complaints and threatenings, He makes a 
ahange in the position of the admonition of the 

VII. CHAP. S;ll. 187 

Spirit to hear. Up to this point, that admonition 
precedes the promise; here, and in the subse 
quent Epistles, it is put after the promise. In the 
first three instances, it would seem to be the ad 
dress of the Spirit from within the professing 
body, calling to the world without; but in the 
last four, it would seem that the Spirit itself is 
without, and that the call is considered now as 
having the same relation to the body of the pro 
fessed Church as to the world. It ia thus in 
tensely significant of prevailing apostasy, which 
has so Paganized the professing Church as to 
make true Christians as exceptional in the Church 
as in the world. As the pillar of cloud went up 
from before the camp of Israel, and took its 
place behind it, to sever the Lord * people from 
the Egyptians, so this change intimates that the 
Church, as a body, has become so blended with 
the world, that a separation needs to be drawn 
between Christ s true people and it, the same as 
its calling was meant to sever it from the world. 
Hence, in all the Epistles in which the Spirit s 
warning takes its place after the promise, the 
great body of the professed Church, as such, is 
treated as apostate, and hopelessly corrupt, whilst 
at the end the fearful announcement is made that 
Christ is about to cast it loathingly from Him. 

And in still another respect does Christ suc 
cessively alter His attitude toward these Churches, 
indicative of growing displeasure on His part, 
and gradual ripening for judgment on their part. 
He required of the Ephesians to repent of their 


decline of love, simply referring to the fact that 
He "will come." He enjoined upon the Per- 
gamites to repent of their still worse defections, 
by the sharper announcement : " Otherwise I am 
coming to thee quickly." Concerning the Thya- 
tirans, he gives a still more fearful picture of His 
coming to judgment, and declares that He will 
cast Jezebel and her paramours into perdition, 
and slay her children with death. Upon the Sar- 
dians he threatens the disaster of arriving over 
them as a thief, at a moment of supposed secu 
rity. The liars and erroriats of Philadelphia He 
says He will humble in the utmost degree, and 
bring upon those settled down in the world an 
hour of dreadful trial, the same as shall befall the 
world itself; and that He is coming quickly, as 
already in the very act of it. And with reference 
to the loathsome Laodiceana, He represents him 
self as already present, appealing to them for the 
hut time, and ready now to spue them out of Hia 

What, then, does all this mean, but that the 
Church, as a professing body, pure and excellent 
as it was at the beginning, and with all the par 
tial revivals that mark different periods of its 
career, and with all the myriads of saints it has 
embraced, is yet, in the judgment of the Son of 
God himself, a subject of gradual and ever-in 
creasing decline and decay, first in one direction, 
then in another, until it becomes completely apos 
tate, and, as such, is finally and forever rejected? 
This will be for many a very sad and startling 


doctrine. It is a paradox. It crosses many a 
fond dream. It carries dismay to certain human 
itarian theories, which are much preached up. It 
strikes the death-blow to the doctrine of a tem 
poral millennium, and to the hope of an eccle 
siastical renovation of the world. Contrary to 
much of the thinking which prevails, it shows 
the professed Church in process of conversion to 
the world, instead of the world in process of con 
version, by its means, to Christ. But I am sure 
that it is the truth of God. Be the logical con 
sequences what they may, I stand here upon the 
aolid rock of Christ s own presentation of the 
case, as viewed from the judgment seat. 

3. But I further learn from these Epistles, con 
sidered in their representative relations, what is 
equally, if not more, important. They give 
Christ s own judgment and decision concerning 
many very grave matters which have agitated, 
divided, distracted and despoiled the Church in 
various ages, and some of which are still of the 
most intense practical moment. In this respect, 
they differ greatly from most other portions of 
Scripture. We elsewhere find what, if rightly 
applied, would give us the same results. But 
here we have, not only principles, which we in 
our weakness are to take and apply as facts and 
circumstances may require, but the facts them 
selves, under Christ s own eye, and directly and 
authoritatively pronounced upon by Him; not 
only the materials out of wbich to form our 


judgment of what Christ ig likely to think of 
particular systems, tendencies or measures in the 
Church, but those systems, tendencies, and mea 
sures themselves, brought before the judgment 
seat, reviewed by His all-searching intelligence, 
and their true character declared direct from His 
own lips. 

In the view of these Epistles which I have 
been endeavoring to bring out, we can be at no 
great loss to know what Nlcolaitanism is. If 
they relate to successive phases of the Church 
general, there can be no disagreement as to the 
identity of the Smyrna period with the era of the 
Pagan persecutions. Smyrna was to have a tri 
bulation of "ten days;" and all ecclesiastical 
writers agree in enumerating "ten" of these per 
secutions, raging most fearfully during ten years, 
from, the decree of Dioclesian in A. D. 303, to the 
Constantinian edict of Milan in A. D. 313. Even 
the opponents of the prophetic view of these 
Epistles agree, that " Smyrna represents excel 
lently well the ecclesm pressa in its last and most 
terrible struggles with heathen Rome."* The dis 
tinctive Pergamite period did not therefore commence 
before the fourth century. And as we find these 
N"icolaitanes in full sway in this period, and giv 
ing character to it, it follows unmistakably that 
they were not a primitive sect, of which some 
have spoken, but of which no one knows any 
thing. Existing already in the Ephesian er*, we 

* See Trench OH the Sev. Epist., p. 809. 


find Nicolaitanism stretching through centuries, 
and exerting an influence so marked, that it is 
not possible that history should he entirely silent 
with reference to it, although not known by this 
name. The truth is, that it figures largely in all 
Church annals ; and we have only to look at the 
signification of the name which Christ gives it, 
and at the characteristic tendenciea of the period 
succeeding the Pagan persecutions, to identify it. 
We know that it was a thing which started in 
practice, and afterwards embodied itself in theory, 
and became a feature of doctrine. We know that 
it was iomething which put down the people, su 
perseded them in their rights, and set them aside ; 
for this is the plain import of the name which 
Christ gives it, and the names which are divinely 
given are always exactly descriptive of the things 
or persons that receive them. We also know, 
from the Scriptures, and from the common repre 
sentations of all ecclesiastical historians, that the 
Church was hardly founded until it began to be 
troubled with the lordly pretensions and doings 
of arrogant men, in violation of the common 
priesthood of believers, and settling upon minis 
ters the attributes and prerogatives of a magis 
terial order, against which Peter, Paul and John 
were moved to declare their apostolic condemna 
tion, but which grew nevertheless, and presently 
became fixed upon the Church as part of its es 
sential system. We know that there is to this 
day a certain teaching, and claim, and practice, 
in the largest part of the professed Church, ao 


cording to whicli a certain order severs itself 
entirely from the laity, assumes the rights and 
titles of priesthood, asserts superiority and au 
thority over the rest in spiritual matters, denies 
the right of any one, whatever his gifts or graces, 
to teach or preach in the Church who has not 
been regularly initiated into the mysterious puis 
sance of its own self-constituted circle, and puts 
forward its creatures, however glaringly deficient 
in those heavenly gifts which really make the 
minister, as Christ s only authorized heralds, be 
fore whom every one else must be mute and 
passive, and whose words and administrations 
every one must receive, on pain of exclusion 
from the hope of salvation. We also know that 
this system of priestly clericalism and prelatical 
hierarchisrn claims to have come down from the 
earliest periods of the Church, and traces for 
itself a regular succession through the Christian 
centuries, and appeals to patristic practice as its 
chief basis, vindication and boast. We know 
that it first came into effective sway in the period 
immediately succeeding the Pagan persecutions,* 
reaching its fullest embodiment in Popery, and 
has perpetuated itself in the same, and in Laud- 
ism, tractarianism, and high-Church ism, even to 
our day, and to our very doors. And if we 
would know what the Lord Jesus thinks of it, 

* Even Archbishop Cranmer testifies that "the bishops and 
priests were at one time, and were no two things, but both one 
office, in the beginning of the Christian religion." Burnett 
Reform., App., Book III. 

LECTURE VII. CHAP. 5:11. 198 

we have only to recur to these Epistles, in which 
He lays His hand right on it, and says : " THIS 


Contemporaneous with the flowering of Nicolai- 
tanisra, was another influential and characterizing 
feature manifested in the Church, of which the 
name of Pergamos itself is significant a certain 
marriage with worldly power, which the Saviour 
pronounces adulterous, idolatrous and Balaamitic. 
NOT can we be in doubt respecting this, any more 
than the other. Its development is located in the 
period immediately succeeding the Pagan perse 
cutions, when the Church, according to all histo 
rians, sacred and secular, did consent to one of 
the most marked and marvellous alliances that 
has occurred in all its history. We know that 
there was then formed a union between the 
Church and the empire, which the fall of that 
empire hardly dissolved, and which has been 
perpetuated in the union of Church and State, in 
the greater part of Christendom, down to this 
very hour. It was an alliance cried up at the 
time, and by many since, as the realization of 
the millennium itself, and the great consum 
mating victory of the cross. But Christ here 
gives His verdict upon it, pronouncing it an 
idolatrous uncleanness; Israel joining himself to 
Baal-peor; a fearful and disastrous compromise 
of Christianity with the world, which disfigured 
and debauched the Church, and destroyed myri 
ads of souls. Nor can any one dispute the ap 
propriateness of the imagery, or the justness of 

VOL. I. 13 


the sentence. (See also Heb. 12 : 6; James 4 : 4; 
1 John 2: 15; Rev. 18:3-9.) 

And by means of Nicolaitanism and affiliation 
with worldly power, by which all sorts of cor 
rupting elements were taken up, the Church soon 
put on another phase, the distinguishing features 
of which are most graphically sketched. " For 
such Protestant expositors," says Trench, "as see 
the Papacy in the scarlet woman of Babylon, the 
Jezebel of Thyatira appears exactly at the right 
time, coincides with the Papacy at its height, yet 
at the same time with judgment at the door in 
the great revolt which was even then preparing."* 
Systematized prelacy, and Balaamism, made the 
emperor president of the Church Councils and 
the confirmer of their decrees, brought the com 
munity of saints into conjunction with " Satan s 
throne," and so gave being to that mongrel but 
mighty thing in which Pagan life was transferred 
to Christian veins, heathen pomp and ceremony 
commingled with Christian rites and sacraments, 
and the professed Bride of Christ transformed 
into a queenly adulteress, the harlot mother of a 
harlot household. And in all history there is not 
another character which so completely represents 
the Papal system its character, works and wor 
ship as the unclean wife of Ahab, the Jezebel 
of these Epistles. She was a heathen, married 
to a Jew ; and such is the character of the Papal 
system in its main elements Paganism joined to 

* OH tine Seren Epistles, p. 310. 

LECTURE VII. CHAP. 3:21. 195 

an obsolete Judaism. She is described as calling 
herself a prophetess, and as undertaking to be 
the teacher of God s servants ; and Popery claims 
and professes to be heaven s only infallible teacher 
of God s truth. She is described as having a set 
of "works," emphatically "her works," as distiii 
guished from others which are called Christ * 
" works;" and Popery is a system of works a 
religion of ceremonies, penances, fasts, masses, 
prayers, vigils, abnegations, bodily macerations, 
purgatory, and supererogatory and meritorious 
holiness of saints, by which it proposes to save its 
devotees. She was an adulteress; and Popery, 
above all, has been characterized by her unclean 
dealings with the kings and powers of the earth, 
lending herself to serve their pleasure, to bring 
them under her sway, and teaching God s people 
to accept worldly conformity as a means of Chris 
tian victory. She was a persecutor and murderess 
of God s prophets and witnesses; and the Papacy 
is marked by nothing more than its severity to 
ward such as stood out against its impious pre 
tences, and its public and secret tortures and 
butcheries of the saints. "For in her was found 
the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all 
that were slain upon the earth." According to 
the most credible reading of these Epistles, this 
Jezebel is represented as the angel s wife ; and it 
is characteristic of Popery to enforce celibacy 
upon the clergy, holding them to be married to 
the Church, and hence teaching all her sons and 
daughters to call them "fathers." This Jezebel 


is also described as having " children," alike with 
her unsatisfactory to Christ; and whence but 
from that unclean source have we those semi- 
Papal national religious establishments, by which 
the Church of Jesus is befouled, hindered aiu! 
disgraced, even in many Protestant countries? 
We thus obtain from these Epistles Christ s own 
direct verdict upon Romanism, both in its more 
offensive features in the old mother, and in its 
more modified forms in the daughters. 

And so, if we would know how the Reforma 
tion stands in the Saviour s estimation, we also 
find it here. As to the great spiritual leaders in 
it, His comforting declaration is, that their gar 
ments were undefiled ; that their names are held 
in honor; and that they shall walk with Him 
in white ; " for they are worthy. 7 As to the 
character of the doctrines on which it was based, 
His command is to remember them, observe 
them, and watch, as the means of being ready 
for Him when He comes. And as to the final 
outcome of the blessed movement, His plain and 
unmistakable word, on the other side, is, that it 
was not complete; that its works have not been 
found perfect in the sight of God ; that the new 
phase of the Church which resulted from it had 
not the vitality which it professed ; and that the 
things which it had taken in hand to conserve, it 
did too much neglect and leave to droop and 
wither. Its agents were pure and noble, its prin 
ciples were right and true; but its fruits were 
incomplete, its results were marred, and its 

LECTURE VII. CHAP. 3:21. \ <>7 

achievements fell short of the mark at which it 
aimed. The Saviour almost names the great- 
souled men who led in that glorious work, and 
seems almost to sign with His own hand the Pro 
test of Spire and the Confession of Augsburg, 
and to reiterate from heaven the great founda 
tion doctrines : 




But the working out of these principles in what 
followed, He as clearly pronounces defective; and 
the embodying of them in the life developed upon 
them, He adjudges to be a thing of "name" 
more than reality. 

Two centuries passed and the Protestant 
Churches assumed another phase. The times of 
the Pietists, and the Puritans, and the Metho 
dists came on, and there was a new stir in dead 
Christendom. Those who had escaped from the 
dominion of Jezebel began to remember how 
they had received, and heard, and to observe, and 
repent, and wake up to a sense of the common 
brotherhood of man, and especially of believers. 
Christians began to see and feel that the Gospel 
is more than orthodoxy, and that living aggres 
siveness is one of its fundamental features. The 
era of revivals, and missions, and united efforts 
for the general conversion of mankind ensued, 


such as had not been since the primitive agea. 
Many indeed continued to live on in ease, settled 
conffortably upon the earth, and but slightly in 
fluenced by the new spirit. Great multitudes of 
false professors, boastful of their claims, and 
sneering and censorious toward the men of true 
faith, yet swarmed throughout Christendom. But, 
upon the whole, there was great revival of life and 
fraternity among Christians. All this we find de 
pictured in the Sixth Epistle, and verified in the 
history of the last hundred years. And Christ s 
estimate of this state of things is also given. The 
true men of love He declares He loves. As their 
hearts have been to extend the victories of the 
cross, He promises them an open door of success 
which none should be able to shut, notwithstand 
ing the efforts made to silence and hinder them. 
Because they kept His word in patient waiting on 
Him and for Him, He promises that they shall be 
kept out of the sifting trials which He threatens 
to send upon those dwelling at ease. And as for 
the rest, they are the "synagogue of Satan," 
whom He engages to humble at the very feet of 
His faithful ones. 

There is yet one other phase. Shall I say that 
it is yet future, or that we have already entered 
it? Here are still some whom Christ loves, 
mostly suffering ones, under the rebukes and 
chastenings of their gracious Lord. But the body 
of Christendom is quite apostate, with Christ out 
side, and knocking for admission into his own 
professed Church. Paul prophesied of the Churcb 


that in the last period, men would be mere " loYers 
of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, 
blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, 
unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, 
false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisera of 
those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, 
lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, 
having the form of godliness bat denying the power 
thereof: 9 (2 Tim. 3 : 1-5.) This is a fearful picture, 
almost as dark as that which he gave of the hea 
then world before Christianity touched it. (See 
Rom. 1 : 26-32.) But it answers precisely to the 
Saviour s portraiture of the characteristics of the 
Church in ita last phase. 

It is Laodicean, conformed in everything to 
the popular judgment and will, the extreme op 
posite of Kicolaitane. Instead of a Church of 
domineering clericals, it is the Church of the 
domineering mob, in which nothing may be 
safely preached except what the people are pleased 
to hear, in which the teachings of the pulpit are 
tashioned to the tastes of the pew, and the feel 
ings of the individual override the enactments of 
legitimate authority. 

It is lukewarm, nothing decided, partly hot 
and partly cold, divided between Christ and the 
world, not willing to give up pretension and 
claim to the heavenly, and yet clinging close to 
the earthy, having too much conscience to cast 
off the name of Christ, and too much love for the 
world to take a firm and honest stand entirely on 
His side. There is much religiousness, but very 


little religion ; much sentiment, but very little of 
nfe to correspond; much profession, but very little 
faith ; a joining of the ball-room to the commu 
nion-table, of the opera with the worship of God, 
and of the feasting and riot of the world with pre 
tended charity and Christian benevolence. 

And it is self-satisfied, boastful, and empty. 
Having come down to the world s tastes, and 
gained the world s praise and patronage, the Lao- 
diceans think they are rich, and increased with 
goods, and have need in nothing. Such splendid 
churches, and influential and intelligent congre 
gations, and learned, agreeable preachers ! Such 
admirable worship and music ! Such excellently 
manned and endowed institutions! So many 
missionaries in the field ! So much given for 
magnificent charities ! Such an array in all the 
attributes of greatness and power ! What more 
can be wanted ? 

And will it answer to say that all this is not 
largely and characteristically the state of things 
at this very hour ? Can any man scrutinize nar 
rowly the professed Church of our day, and say 
that we have not reached the Laodicean age ? Is 
it not the voice of this Christendom of ours which 
says : " I am rich, and increased with goods, and 
have need in nothing? And is it not equally 
the fact that this selfsame Christendom of ours is 
u the wretched, and the pitiable, and poor, and 
blind, and naked ?" Did the " Mene, mene, tekel 
uphareiii" of Belshazzar s palace better fit the 
ancient heathen than this modern Christian Ba- 

LECTURE VII. CHAP. 3:21. 201 

by Ion? Men talk of it as destined to gkrious 
triumph. They proclaim it commissioned of God 
to convert the world. They point to its onward 
march as about to take speedy possession of the 
race for Christ and heaven. But "The Amen" 
hath spoken. "The faithful and true Witness" 
hath given His word: "I AM ABOUT TO SPUE IT 


Friends and brethren, I have not made these 
pictures ; I have found them ; and the sevenfold 
admonition of Almighty God with reference to 
them is : " He that hath an ear, let him hear." 
You have listened to my statements ; have you 
taken in their truths ? If there is any just appre 
hension of Holy Scriptures in them, these seven 
Epistles stand out in transcendent interest and 
value, as they do in the urgency with which they 
are pressed upon our attention. They are Christ s 
own history of His Church. They are Christ s 
own criticisms upon all its characteristic features 
and doings for nearly two thousand years. They 
are Christ s own verdict upon all the great ques 
tions which have agitated it, and upon all the 
great influences and tendencies, from within and 
from without, which have affected its character or 
destiny in every period of its career. The touches 
are few, but the marks of their divinity are in 
them. They are comprehensive, true, and unmis 
takable to Him who will rightly approach and 
fairly deal with them. 

And if these Epistles really are what I have re 
presented them to be, then we have in them what 


Christians have so much felt the want of, namely, 
an authoritative settlement of the great questions 
between us and prelatists, papists, state-church- 
ists, and false pretenders, errorists and radicals 
of many sorts. Then also we have in them a 
final settlement of the question whether the 
Church, or the returned Saviour, is to carry re 
demption into successful effect upon earth s de 
praved and rebellious peoples, whether there is 
to be a millennium of peace and universal right 
eousness wrought by present instrumentalities or 
not, whether the tendency of Christendom is to 
ward improvement and perfection, or, like every 
thing else with which fallen man has to do, earth 
ward, deathward, and hellward, and whether or 
not the true flock of God is ever to be anything 
else in this dispensation than a feeble, depressed, 
and hated minority. All these questions, and 
many more alike interesting, important, and vital, 
are put beyond all reasonable disputation in these 
Epistles if the doctrine of their proper prophetic 
aspect is to be maintained. And I submit it to 
you, as you shall answer before the bar of God, 
whether the truthfulness of this acceptation of 
them has not been credibly and conclusively 
made out. The key exactly fits the lock, the im 
pression answers to the stamp, the cast bears the 
precise outlines of the mould ; and it would seem 
to me like trifling with the truth not to admit 
that, in the mind of Jesus, they belong together. 
Let us gee to it, then, that we hear as the text 
commands, and learn to view the Church s errors, 

LECTURE VII. CHAP. 3:21. 208 

corruptions, mistakes, and sins, as Christ views 
them ; to love what He loves, to hate what He 
hates, and to hope only as He has given us autho 
rity to hope. And to this may Almighty God 
grant us His helping grace ! Amen. 

Help, mighty God I 

The strong man bows himself, 
The good and wise are few, 
The standard-bearers faint 
The enemy prevails. 
Help, God of might, 
In this thy Church s night 1 

Help, mighty God I 

Th world is waring gray, 
And charity grows chill, 
And faith is at its obb, 
And hope is withering f 
Help, God of might, 
Appear in glory bright ! 



Rzv. 4 : 1. (Keviied Text.) After these things I saw, and behold, 
a door et open in the heaven, and the former voice which I heard, as 
of a trumpet, speaking with me, saying, Come up hither, and I will 
show thee the things which must take place after these things. 

flHESE words begin a new vision, which con- 
-*- stitutes the second grand section of the Apo 
calypse. It occupies two chapters. It relates 
not to things on earth, but to things in heaven, 
and to things subsequent to the period covered 
by the seven Churches. As the first vision em 
braces the entire earthly career of the Church on 
earth, from its organization under the apostles to 
the coming of Christ, this gives us the state of 
things intervening between the removal or rap 
ture of the saints, and the letting forth of judg 
ment upon apostate Christendom. In other 



words, it is the Apocalypse of Christ in relation 
to His elect in heaven, after they have been 
" taken " " caught up " miraculously removed 
from the world to the pavilion cloud, and pre 
vious to the going forth of His visitations upon 
those not " accounted worthy to escape all these 
things/ and " left." 

But before entering upon this sublime dis 
closure, there are still some things relating to the 
Church in its earthly career and fate, which it 
will be important first to clear up more fully. 

In applying the seven Epistles to the successive 
periods in the history of the Church, a succession 
of pictures of growing apostasy and defection 
was exhibited, so contrary to current feelings and 
ideas, that some, perhaps, might be disposed to 
question the correctness of the interpretation. 
Some may perhaps think, that if the tendency of 
the professed Church is ever downward, then the 
Church must be considered a failure, and the 
Gospel regarded as inadequate to its purposes. I 
had not overlooked these bearings of the subject. 
It is also due to the truth, and to such as are ho 
nestly perplexed in adjusting our expositions to 
the general scheme of Providence and Revelation, 
that something more should be said. 

Observe, then, in the first place, that so far as 
regards the history of the Church hitherto, it is a 
simple matter of fact that its course has always 
been in the line of deterioration ; that mischiefs 
of different sorts have successively assailed it, 
and made sad havoc of its faith and life ; and that 


from no one of them has it ever recovered, or 
given signs of its ability or destiny to recover. 
In a recent course of able Lectures on the Ages 
of Christendom, I find it announced, as the result 
of a faithful induction of the facts, that " Ecck- 
siastical history is, to a large extent, a history of cor 
ruptions."* That such is the truth, every one 
may easily ascertain for himself. The very creeds 
of the Church are just so many protestations 
against the consuming errors which have invaded 
and preyed upon it, and which, once introduced, 
never entirely disappear. Apart, then, from all 
prophetic interpretation, it is a stubborn fact, 
which we must dispose of the best way we can, 
that the power of deterioration has hitherto held 
vast sway in the professing Church. History 
thus accords with prophetic foreshowing, and 
bears upon its unalterable records what was al 
ready foreseen and foretold from the very begin 
ning. And if we do shut our eyes and ears to 
what the prophets have said, because the picture 
is unwelcome and embarrassing, the same stands 
written where we must meet it, and where we 
must deal with it, unrelieved by the convenient 
resort of referring it to some wild and bewilder 
ing theories of prophetic interpretation. It is 
fact, and we must admit it, whether it be in the 
prophecies or not. 

It is, moreover, a very foolish thing for us to 

* Congregational Lecture for 1865, by John Stoughton, p. 


attempt to marshal the course of God s provi 
dence according to our preconceptions and nar 
row judgments of what is consistent and right. 
No human philosophy has ever yet been able to 
cast its boldest guesses half way to the sublimity 
of the divine plans and purposes. We have 
justly been compared to children playing on the 
sea-shore, now and then picking up a few beau 
tiful pebbles or shells, but with the great ocean 
of God s thoughts lying all undiscovered before 
us. We may wonder, and question, and debate ; 
but all the fabrics of our wisdom are utterly over 
whelmed by the first swell from those mysterious 
depths. People may ask how it is that the great 
Author of Christianity has permitted the history 
of its realization to include so much that is pain 
ful and revolting ; how it is that He did not keep 
unpolluted His own sacred institutions that He 
did not save the light from being dimmed that 
He did not preserve the Church an unblighted 
garden, a home of unruffled love. We can only 
answer, that His ways are not as our ways, nor 
His thoughts as our thoughts. The truth is, that 
God s universe throughout is a very different 
realm from what man s wisdom would have made 
it. The human ideal of what a world should be 
of what a system of creation should be of 
what an order of moral government should be 
of what a revelation from heaven should be is a 
frail conceit, dashed to atoms the moment it en- 
eouuters God s actual world, government or word, 
the Church is only a more mysterious and 


more miraculous part of a grand system of mys* 
teries and miracles, as wide as space, and stretch 
ing through eternity. It is therefore the part of 
piety and true wisdom to accept God s word as it 
is, and facts as they are, without interposing bar 
riers to the reception of the truth, by our philoso 
phizing and vain imaginings as to how things 
should be. 

It is also to be remarked that the history of the 
Church, as we have found it projected in the se 
ven Epistles, accords very well with the history 
of the universe in general. It is only a smaller 
circle within a larger of the same sort. " God 
revealed truth and duty to angels in heaven. He 
did the same to Adam and Eve on earth. They 
were all at first perfect, according to their nature. 
The greater Church above was pure and holy 
the lesser Church below had on it no taint. 
Then a part of the celestial Eccksm apostatized; 
morning stars fell; sons of God kept not their 
first estate. The little terrestrial Ecclesia, as a 
whole, was disobedient; as its members multi 
plied, they corrupted religion, accepted shadows 
for substances, and went fearfully astray. Here, 
then, we have examples of responsible creatures 
having before them divine communications full 
of holiness and love, while they are either in de 
clared hostility to the gracious message and law, 
or else keeping hollow peace, and paying hypo 
critical deference. Infinite power and goodness 
have not prevented such a collision, nor excluded 
such an alliance. Evil exists in this world and in 


otner worlds. Is it out of harmony with that 
fact, that evil should be found in Christendom ? 
The analogy between the corruptions of the 
Christian religion, and the prior corruptions of 
reason and conscience between the introduction 
of sin among angels, and the appearance of sin 
among Christians is obvious enough. There is 
only this difference : that whereas in the earlier 
case there was apostasy after perfection a de 
parture from the ideal after a full realization of 
it in the latter case there has never been full 
perfection; at the beginning, the ideal was not 
more than partially realized. The first fall was 
deeper than the second, and far more wonderful. 
If nature be corrupted, is it so great a marvel 
that revelation should be perverted ? Amidst the 
raging of moral disease, is the mystery much in 
creased when we see mortals resisting or misap 
plying the remedy ? How could human sin and 
folly, prevalent everywhere, be kept out of Chris 
tendom, without a miracle very different from, 
and far greater than, any which the Bible re 
lates?" So Stoughton has well put the case.* 
Why, then, should we become so disturbed and 
unsettled at the prophetic portraiture of a contin 
uously corrupting Christendom, down even to the 
very end of the dispensation ? Nay, why should 
we entertain the idea of an end at all, except 
upon the underlying assumption, either, as we 
hold, that it was never meant to be that final and 

* "Ages of Christendom," pp. 42&-S. 
VOL. i. 14 


universally effective thing which some have erro 
neously conceived it to be, or that there has been 
some disastrous miscarriage in its aim ? 

Neither does it compromise the perfection or 
the divinity of Christianity, that so large a part 
of its history, even to the end, is a history of cor- 
ruption and apostasy. The ideal of a thing maj 
be perfect, and the realization of it be very dif 
ferent. Crimes argue nothing against the excel 
lence of the laws by which they are condemned 
and punished. No more is the Gospel responsible 
for man s perversions of it, or for the defections 
which it denounces. Nay, these very apostasies 
help to evidence its divinity. Having foretold, 
warned against and condemned them from the 
commencement, their actual occurrence is proof 
that it is from Him who knew the end of all 
things from the beginning. The very announce 
ments of the Gospel, and all its original and 
authoritative records, predicted "a falling away," 
the coming of "false prophets in sheep s cloth 
ing," a " departing from the faith," the bringing 
in of "damnable heresies," and all varieties and 
forms of evil with which the Church has hitherto 
been marred and disgraced. The darkest pages 
of its history are just what was foreseen. 

Ere it came, 

Its shadow, stretching far and wide, was known, 
And two who looked beyond the visible sphere 
Gave notice of its coming : he who saw 
The Apocalypse, and he of elder time, 
Who, in awful vision of the night, 
Saw the four kingdoms, distant as they were 

L *ua* VIII. CHAP. 4:1. 211 

Had it not been so, then these sad disasters 
might weigh to overturn our faith ; but with the 
whole story of Christendom traced out in ad 
vance, in the foretellings of its founders, and the 
facts in all their details coinciding with the pre 
dictions, so contrary to all man s anticipations 
and ideas, we are assured of the presence of su 
perhuman foresight, and of a wisdom which could 
only come from God. 

Nor does it follow that we must consider the 
Gospel a failure because of these augmenting 
defections. If it had been stated in the JSTew 
Testament that the Gospel was never to be mis 
apprehended or denied by its professors ; that the 
heavenly gift could never be soiled by earthly 
touch; that the circle of the Church should be 
forever free from Satanic invasion ; that no here 
sies, schisms, inconsistencies, falsehoods, frauds, 
hypocrisies or crimes should ever be found in 
eccles- -s&tical annals; and that the career of the 
Church should be like a pure and peaceful river, 
unol itructed in its flow, unpolluted in its waters, 
ana jver expanding through the centuries, until 
the world should be covered with the ocean 
of its outpoured blessings; then, indeed, such 
obscurations of the sunny picture would necessi 
tate the admission that Christianity has failed. 
But no such things are written in the New Testa 
ment. The very reverse is found in every allu 
sion which it makes to the estate of the Church 
in this world, or to the nature and object of this 
dispensation Christ s own miraculous ministry 


gathered around Him but a "little flock," and 
one of them was a devil. The highest expecta 
tion of Paul in his great labors, was that he 
"might save some." James declared the object 
of the offer of God s grace to the Gentiles to be, 
"to take out of them a people for His name," 
and that "to this agree the words of the pro 
phets." (Acts 15 : 14, 15.) The very designation 
of the true subjects of divine grace (exxtyeta) sin 
gles them out as exceptional to the general mass; 
as elected and chosen ones, in whose high privi 
leges the great multitudes in every age have no 
part. And he who looks upon the present Gospel, 
simply as we now have it, as meant, equipped, 
and ordained, for the conversion of all mankind, 
and the recovery of the whole world to holiness, 
believes what the Scriptures do not teach, and 
is expecting what God has nowhere promised. 
There is not a respectable creed in all Christen 
dom that embodies any such doctrine. On the 
contrary, the fundamental Confession of Protest 
ants condemns, as "Jewish notions," all idea 
" that, prior to the resurrection of the dead, the 
godly shall get the sovereignty in the world, and 
the wicked be brought under in every place."* 

* John Conrad Goebel, in his sermons on the Augsburg 
Confession, interprets this article as repudiating the doctrine 
of the conyemon of the world, and declares that "the idea 
of a goldn age in this world, before the resurrection of the 
dead, is a mere phantasm, not only contrary to the entire 
Holy Scripture, but especially contrary to the clear and lucid 
prophecies of the Lord Jesus Christ and His beloved apostles, 
where they speak of the times immediately preceding the day 


in like manner, the Latter Confession of Helvetia 
condemns "the Jewish dreams, that before the 

of judgmeat Matt. 24 : 23 ; 1 Tim. 4 : 1 ; 2 Tim. 8 : 1 ; 2 Pet. 
8:3; and other places, where more may fee seen upoa tke sub 
ject. Notking is there said or predicted of a goldea age, but 
only crosses and tribulations, whick touck all tke estates of 
tke world. Concerning ecclesiastical affairs, it was predicted 
that in the last times many false Christs and false prophets 
shall arise, and skall do great signs and wonders, and deceive, 
if it were possible, the very elect. Concerning kearers, it was 
predicted that lore should wax cold in the hearts of many, and 
faith warn* to such a degree that Christ himself asks : When 
tke Soa of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth ? 
Will tkat be a golden age ? Concerning matters of state, it 
was predicted tkat unrighteousness shall sway them, and there 
shall be wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against na 
tion, aad. kingdom against kingdom. Will that be a golden 
age? Concerning the family, it was predicted that the son 
skall fee agaiast the father, the daughter against her mother, 
and tkat a mam s foes shall be those of his own house. Will 
tkat be a gelden age ? Concerning common life, it was pre 
dicted tkat tkere shall be distress of people on earth, and 
trembliag, aad fainting for fear, and for lookiag after the 
things that are to come upon the eartk, and tribulation such 
as was not from the beginning and never skall be again. 
Will that be a golden age? And if we will only consider 
this matter a little in tk fear of God, it will be seen that this 
fanatical notion contradicts all Scripture, as it is contrary to 
this article of our common Christianity. . . . Here on earth, 
while the wrU lasts, we are ia the militant Ckurch, and have 
to suffer as God wills, waiting patiently for the true golden 
age, and tke kiagdom of the adorable Trinity not in this 
world kore ea earth, but ia the future kingdom of eternal 
glory aad blessedness." Die XXI Art. Aug. Conf. in Prtdigen 
Erkl&rt, pp. 1256-59. 

A recent writer (D&s Tuusend jarige Reich gthOrt nicht der 
Vergangenheit, sondri der Zukunft an: G utersloh, 1860) also 
maintains that this article of the Confession condemns th 


judgment there shall be a golden world in the 
earth, and that the godly shall possess the king 
doms of the world, their wicked enemies being 
trodden under foot; for the Evangelical truth 
(Matt. 24 and 25, and Luke 21) and the apostolic 
doctrine (in the Second Epistle to Timothy, 3 and 
4) are found to teach far otherwise."* Luther 
says: "This is not true, and is really a trick 
of the devil, that people are led to believe that 
the whole world shall become Christian. It is 
the devil s doing, in order to darken sound doc 
trine, and to prevent it from being rightly under 
stood. . . . Therefore, it is not to be admitted 
that the whole world and all mankind shall be 
lieve on Christ; for we must perpetually bear 
the sacred cross, that they are the majority who 
persecute the saints."t Melancthon also puts it 
forth, as part of the essential faith, that the 
Church in this life is never to attain a position 
of universal triumph and prosperity, but is to 
remain depressed, and subject to afflictions and 
adversities, until the period of the resurrection 

modern ideas of the universal conversion of tke world in the 
present order of things. 

* See Hall s Protestaat Confesiiona, pp. 88, 106. 

f "Das ist nicht wahr, und kats eigentlich der Teuful 
zugerichtet, das an glaubt, die gaaze Welt werde Ckristen 
werden. Der Teulel hats darum getham, das er die recht- 
Bchafiena Lehre rerdunkelte, das man sie nimuaer recht ver- 
stunde. Darum hiite eich dafur. . . . Darum mast ihr es 
nicht also verstehen, das die ganze Welt und alle Memcien an 
Ohristum werden gl&iiben ; denn wir mussen inamer das hei- 
lige creuz haben, dass ihr das mehrere Theil sind, die die 
Christen verfolgen." Walch a Luther, vox. xi, cola. 1082-88. 


of the dead.* All that God has promised con 
cerning His Church in this dispensation, is, that 
by it the offer of salvation shall be made to man 
kind in general ; that the preaching of the Gospel 
shall be effective to the taking out of an elect 
people for His name ; and that Christ shall have 
His acknowledged representatives in every gener 
ation. No one pretends that there has been any 
failure in these respects. And as the great apos- 
taeies of the past argue no deficiency or miscar 
riage in these particulars, so, in all time to come, 
if bat here and there a few faithful ones be 
found, it will be enough to vindicate every pro 
mise which the Church has on this side of the 
day of judgment. 

We do not regard the Mosaic dispensation as 
a failure because the Jews as a body perverted it 
by their traditions, and crucified Him for whose 
kingdom it was given as the means of their pre 
paration. It was never intended to supersede 
voluntary obedience on their part. They had 
opportunity to become the Lord s ransomed ones, 
and to attain the highest honors of the kingdom. 
There was not a promise but was yea and amen, 
if they had been willing to comply with the con 
ditions of it. But, as a people, they would not 
hearken; apostatized, and were rejected. But 
the purposes of the dispensation did not fail. It 
was competent to do all that it proposed, and did 
prepare a people for the Lord, and effectually 

* U 8cimus item, quod Ecclesia in hoc vita subjeota sit 
eruci," ete. Mel. Op. Corp. Ref., vol. xxvi, p. 361. 


filled its place in the ongoing of the history of 
God s vast plans of mercy. And what the former 
dispensation was to the Jewish nation, the Gospel 
is to Christendom. The Christian Church is only 
a graft upon the same original stem. It has char 
acteristics of its own, but its aim and underlying 
substance are essentially the same. Ita promises 
are all conditioned after the same manner as the 
covenant with the natural posterity of Abraham. 
The breaking off of the graft cannot therefore be 
considered any more disastrous to the efficiency 
of the Gospel, than the breaking off of the "na 
tural branches." The cases are precisely parallel, 
and the argument can only apply in one case as 
in the other. The Church of the old covenant 
apostatized, and was cast away; but it accom 
plished God s purposes, which still went on as 
effectually as if no such defection had occurred. 
The Church of the new covenant may prove 
equally faithless, as all the prophecies show that 
it will ; and God may fulfil His threat also not to 
spare it ; and still no hindrance come to the pro 
gress of His great redemptive administrations. 
Man s perverseness surely cannot unmake God s 
purposes, or disarrange the divine plans. The 
Church will still fill out its place in the chain of 
the economies of His grace. 

It is also distinctly told us, that the devil is the 
prince and god of this age ; that Christ s minis 
ters in this dispensation are never anything but 
ambassadors at a foreign court; that the saints 
are always mere pilgrims and strangers on the 


earth; that the Gospel is ever to be preached 
only as a witness to the nations ; that when the 
Son of Man cometh, he shall hardly find faith on 
the earth; that the days in which He shall come 
will be evil days, like the days of Noah before 
the flood; and that the judgment will find man 
kind banded together in grand confederations 
of unparalleled rebellion and wickedness. And 
how thinking people can take in these unmis 
takable statements, and still cling to a theory of 
Providence which would make the plainly pre 
dicted apostasy of Christendom equivalent to a 
failure of the plans and promises of God, I can 
not understand. 

But I may not dwell longer upon this topic 
now. Whatever defections or judgments befall 
the nominal Church in any age, this is true, and 
clearly foreshown in these Epistles : that God is 
never without His witnesses upon ike earth. With all 
the waning love, and false apostles, and Mcolai- 
tane practices of Ephesus, there were some who 
could not bear those who were evil ; and who en 
dured, labored and suffered for the name of Jesus, 
and whose fidelity is to be rewarded with the joys 
of Paradise. With all the poverty and tribulation 
and reproach of the Smyrnaotes, and the false 
ones of Satan s synagogue by whom they were 
afflicted, there were some rich in grace, faithful 
to the last, and destined to wear the crown of 
life, unhurt of the second death. With the prox 
imity of the Church of Pergamos to Satan s 
throne, and the presence in it of the advocates 


of adulterous alliances, and systematizers of 
usurpation and evil, it had members who held 
fast to the Saviour s name, and kept the faith 
steadfast unto death, who are to receive of the 
hidden manna, and feast on heavenly bread, and 
wear the engraved gem of celestial privilege and 
honor. Even in Thyatira, where Jezebel herself 
enacted her damning uncleannesses, there was a 
remnant who kept aloof from Satan s depths, and 
wrought the deeds of faith and charity, and made 
good their title to share in the judgment of na 
tions, and to receive the morning star. The 
deadness of Sardis was not so pervading, but a 
few names were left which had not denied their 
garments, which had received the truth, and 
taught it, and lived it, and which are to walk 
with Christ in white, and to be confessed in hea 
ven. The Philadelphians, though but a handful 
in the midst of false ones, and dwellers among 
those too much at ease in worldly comfort, are 
still a band of earnest brothers, on whom the 
doors cannot be shut, at whose feet Satan s syna 
gogue shall be humbled, and who are to be kept 
out of the trying hour, transferred to the celestial 
temple, and adorned with the name of God, and 
the new Jerusalem, and the new name of Christ 
himself! And in among the sickening lukwarm- 
ness, pride, boasting and emptiness of the Laodi- 
ceans, there are some chastened ones whom Jesus 
loves, and some who hear His voice, and open 
unto Him, and up with Him, and whose destiny 
is to sit with Him on His everlasting throne. 


And if in these seven pictures the whole length 
of the Church s history is embraced, the fact 
stands out, in noonday clearness, that God has 
His saints in every age. 

When we survey the characteristics of our 
times, the unrighteousness, the avarice , the lust- 
fulness, the untruthfulness, the hypocrisy, the 
impiety, the crime, the hollow-heartedness, and 
the untold hidden iniquities which prevail in all 
circles of Church, business and State ; when we 
consider the wickednesses which are perpetrated 
by people who call themselves Christians, and 
the shameless worldliness of professors of relig 
ion, and the wreck of all distinctive doctrinal 
belief, and the prostitutions of the house of God 
and the sacred desk itself to vanity, politics, self 
ishness, sensuality, and base trickery in the name 
of Jesus ; when we look at the insubordination 
which is left to run riot in the great majority of 
so-called Christian families, and the secret vices 
and concealed blood-guilty crimes of so-called 
Christian husbands and wives, and of the utter 
moral emptiness, headiness and incontinence of 
the mass of the busiest and noisiest modern re 
ligionists ; when we contemplate the goings forth 
of sin in these days, like Death on the pale horse, 
with hell following in its train, and come to count 
np the names of those in our congregations whom 
we can confidently set down as true and thorough 
saints of God, we are sometimes tempted, with 
the Psalmist, to say, "All men are liars," and to 
doubt whether God has not resigned His domm- 


ion over mankind, and abandoned them to De 
drifted, by the whirlwinds of their own passions, 
to irremediable ruin. But, with all the hard 
things which we are in honesty and fairness com 
pelled to write against the present population of 
Christendom, God has not left Himself without 
witnesses, and still has His true people, who have 
not kissed their hands nor bowed their knees to 
the reigning idolatry of the times. Earthy and 
vile as the congest may be, there is gold in it, as 
there was an Enoch and a Noah in the generation 
before the flood, and a Lot even in Sodom itself. 
Amid all Christianity s corruptions, there has 
always been some standing out against them. 
The pure ideal has never failed to produce some 
proximate realization of itself. Dreary as the 
annals of the Church appear, both in prophetic 
and historic records, the student of them still 
finds his path skirted with spiritual verdure; and 
in the distant scenery, examples of faith, purity, 
love, heroism, devotion and obedience, are never 
once entirely out of view, the loveliest often 
being found in the by-paths, and encountered 
where they would be least expected. Even in 
the darkest eras, imbedded in neglected chroni 
cles, noble names are to be found, sparkling with 
the radiance of every Christian grace. And by 
a sort of system of compensation, in nearly every 
instance, while darkness and death reigned in one 
place, light and life were vigorous at another. 
" Contemporary with the waning of piety in An- 
tioch, was its waxing in Milan. When the 


Churches of Alexandria and Carthage were sink 
ing in the decrepitude of formalism, the Churches 
of Gaul were battling the vices of imperial civil 
ization, and the rudeness and disorder of barbar 
ism. The era of the early growth of Rome s 
impious pretensions was the era of Ireland s light 
and life, holiness and beauty. While Mahomet 
was God s avenger on Syria and Egypt, the 
monks of lona were studying their Bible, and 
Scotch missionaries were crossing the Anglo- 
Saxon border and entering the heart of Germany. 
As Gregory IV was encouraging the sons of the 
Emperor Lewis in parricidal wars, Claude was 
preaching the truth at Turin, and adorning it 
with a holy life. When the pontifical court at 
Avignon was disgracing the name of religion by 
luxury and vice, pious men were writing books, 
and preaching sermons, and practising godly vir 
tue, in Teutonic cities. When the night of super 
stition and despotism was getting blacker than 
ever in France, the morning star of the Reforma 
tion rose on England. When Italian fields were 
covered with rotten stubble, Bohemia was whiten 
ing to the harvest."* And so, in all the ages, 
there have never failed some blessed offsets to 
the ever downward tendency of things. NOT 
will it ever be, in the darkest and dreadest days 
of Christendom s apostasy, that there will be 
none to stand up for God and His pure truth, or 
that His true people shall fail from the earth. 

* Stoughton s Ages of Christendom, p. 481. 


Who, then, are they f And what are thdr chm ac- 
ieristics? Nowhere in the Scriptures may we find 
a more direct and satisfactory answer to these in 
quiries, than is furnished us in these Epistles. 
Christ himself here looks down with flaming 
eyes upon His people, and with a certainty infal 
lible points His finger to those whom He acknow 
ledges, and for whom His everlasting rewards 
are in reserve. The field which thus opens to 
our survey is full of inviting riches of instruction 
and Evangelic truth, in which it would be well 
for us to linger, and to wander back and forth to 
note each word, and hint, and incident. The 
merest glance is all that we can now attempt; 
but even that will be enough to reveal, in vivid 
outline, who and what are the saints, and the 
partakers in the honors of transforming grace. 

First of all , they are Ephesians people of warm 
and kindled hearts, glowing with the impulses of 
ardent love and zeal toward Christ, as the " chief 
among ten thousand, and altogether lovely/ 

Talk tkrp of morals, O thou bleeding Lamb 1 
The best morality is lore to Thee. 

Love to Jesus is the root of all true Christianity. 
It is the perfection of faith, and it is the fulfilling 
of the law. The heart that takes fire at the men 
tion of the Saviour s name, that swells with 
sympathetic ardor at the story of His life, and 
deeds, and death, and triumph; that looks to 
Him in His hidden home as the Lord oi its affec 
tions and the chief joy of its life; that is bound 

LECTURE VIII. CHAP. 4 5 1. 228 

and drawn, by sweet constraints of living grati 
tude, to untiring devotion and obedience ; tnat ia 
not content but in leaning with John upon His 
breast, or clinging with Mary to His blessed feet; 
that thrills with the contemplation of seeing Him 
as He is, and being with Him forever ; and that 
pines, and sighs, and ever prays in His absence, 
" Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly," is the heart 
most surely in harmony with heaven, and on 
which the favor of the Lord of the Church is 
most unmistakably set. The primal source of 
all defective saintship, and of all that the Divine 
Judge censures in any of His professed people, is 
the wane of love. Let a man be alive in love to 
God, and make it his joy to give his whole heart 
to Jesus, and his title is clear, and his acceptance 

And as the fruit of their affection, Christ s true 
people are further characterized by unswerving 
and uncompromising devotion to their profession. 
They have taken Christ for their Lord, and they 
will know no obedience but obedience to Him. 
For Him they labor, for Him they endure, and 
His they count themselves to be, to the full ex 
tent of all they have and are. Pledged to stand 
out unshaken against whatsoever is wrong, they 
will have no communion with evil ones, and will 
not fellowship with such as say they are apostles 
and are not, and hate and loathe the deeds of 
tyranny which would tread down any in whom 
God s image is, and are not afraid to speak their 
condemnation of wrongdoers, whatever may be 


their pretensions or their place. There is a ten 
dency, in these days, to account that the purest 
Christianity which has the largest "charity" as it 
is called, and toleration for everybody and every 
thing, and which disdains social differences for 
opinion s sake, or separations and controversies 
on account of the faith. But that is not the sort 
of Christianity which our Lord and Judge com 
mends in these Epistles. Those whom He here 
approves as His true people, are such as cannot 
bear those who are evil, such as test men s claims 
to apostolicity, and expose their falsities, and hate 
the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, and stand to the 
truth as they have received it from the Lord, ear 
nestly contending for the faith. 

Another characteristic is, that they are poor, 
and reproached, and tried, and often persecuted 
unto death. Smyrnaotes, to a greater or less ex 
tent, are all the true saints of God. It seems to 
be one of the unvarying laws of this dispensation, 
that the absence of censure from heaven conducts 
through affliction on earth. The richest and most 
independent man, if he .be a true Christian, is 
quite convinced that he is one of the very poorest 
and most helpless of God s creatures. He is poor 
in spirit, and his earthly possessions are no riches 
to him. And if any would live godly in Christ 
Jesus, it is useless to think of exemption from 
trials, reproaches and persecutions. People may 
serve the devil all their lives ; and if they only 
manage to do it decently, not a word from the 
world shall ever be said against them, and not a 


frown need they fear. But let them start in ear 
nest, honest Christianity, and they are snubbed, 
and sneered at, and put out of the synagogue, 
and made to hear of it and feel it at many points. 
Pious people, somehow, have ever been afflicted 
people. It seems to be God s plan to make his 
children ill at ease in this world, that they may 
the more earnestly long for that which is to come. 
The mass of them have been martyrs, living 
martyr lives, if not dying martyr deaths. The 
holiest men are always suffering men. There is 
no saintship which is exempt from trial, sorrow, 
and this world s frowns. Nor may any one be a 
Christian of the purer and better sort, with whom 
the world is satisfied, on whom earthly fortune 
ever smiles, and of whom no spiteful ill is ever 
said. Woe unto you, when all speak well of you, 
is the word of Christ himself. 

But along with this, we find another feature. 
Afflicted, poor and persecuted, God s true people 
cheerfully bear whatever He appoints, and keep 
Christ s word of patient endurance. The saints 
of Ephesus did bear for the Saviour s name, and 
fainted not. Those of Smyrna were faithful to 
the last, as illustrated in the case of Polycarp, 
who preferred burning to a compromise of his 
faith, and found place for songs and thanksgivings 
amid the flames that consumed him. Those of 
Pergamos held fast Christ s name, and did not 
deny the faith of Him, and stood out in glad ad 
herence to the truth, under the very sword of the 
executioner. Those of Thyatira and Philadelphia 

TOL. I. 15 


are specially commended for their endurance in 
the midst of falsity and suffering, and held fast 
in joyous prospect of the speedy coming of their 
Divine Deliverer. And so it is ever the character 
of God s saints to choose rather to suffer affliction 
with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleas 
ures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach 
of Christ greater riches than all the treasures in 

And if there is yet another mark of saintship 
singled out in these Epistles, it is the profound 
regard which true believers have for the recom 
pense of the reward at the coming and revelation 
of Jesus Christ. There is a Paradise of God on 
which their hopes are set. There is a crown of 
life at which they aim. There is a heavenly sus 
tenance and gem of celestial privilege and honor, 
and a sceptre of holy dominion, and an inherit 
ance of the morning star, and an acknowledgment 
before God and angels, and an enrolment among 
principalities in the eternal empire, and a session 
with Jesus on His everlasting throne, on which 
their hearts are set. They believe that these 
things exist, and that they are meant tor them, 
and that it is the merciful will of God that they 
should have them ; and they wait for them, look 
ing not at the things which are seen, but at the 
things which are not seen. Seeing that Christ 
has given these promises, they embrace them, 
and confess that they are strangers and pilgrims 
on the earth, "looking for that blessed hope, the 
glorious appearing of God our Saviour," 


What, tlien, is to become of these people f Many 
of them have fallen asleep ; and daily one and 
another of them, in every age, has been consigned 
to the tomb. Scattered over all the world their 
wasting ashes lie, whilst the places that once 
knew them know them no more. But these 
Epistles take very little account of death. The 
most that they say of it is that Christ has passed 
through it and revived, and that He has the keys 
of both it and Hades. Since then, it is hardly 
any more accounted death. The addresses to the 
Churches are given as if those same Churches 
were to continue through all the ages, and to 
meet the scenes of the great consummation just 
as they were living at the time. Hence, the 
resurrection also is but inferentially embraced. 
It is, indeed, presupposed in all the seven prom 
ises ; but the short hiatus in the lives of individ 
ual saints is treated as hardly worth being em 
braced among the greater things of this vision. 
The return of Jesus and His Apocalypse to His 
Church is the master theme ; and the preparation 
for that, and the rewards then to come to the 
saints, absorbs everything. And when Christ 
comes, it will be the same with those faithful 
ones of His that sleep, as with those who may be 
still alive and waiting for Him. There will be no 
advantage to the one class above the other as re 
spects what is to follow. When the Lord himself 
shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the 
voice of the archangel and the trump of God, 
first of all, the saints that sleep in Him shall rise. 


This is plainly taught us in the apostolic mes 
sages. And when they have been thus recalled, 
whatever is further said is the same with regard 
to them as to those living saints who shall not 
have died at all. 

One very striking statement concerning them, 
is that they are to be kept out of the hour of 
temptation out of that season of trial which is 
then to come upon the whole world, to try those 
who dwell upon the earth instead of cherishing a 
heavenly citizenship. (See chap. 3 : 10.) How 
this deliverance is to be wrought, St. Paul ex 
plains. The saints, both living and resurrected, 
are to be miraculously snatched away from earth 
to heaven, suddenly, and in the twinkling of an 
eye. His own unmistakable words are : " Then 
we who are living, who remain, shall be caught 
up together with them (the resurrected ones) 
in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." (1 
Thess. 4 : 17.) The Saviour himself has also 
given assurances to the same effect, where He 
says: "I tell you, in that night there shall be 
two in one bed : the one shall be taken, and the 
other shall be left. Two women shall be grind 
ing together: the one shall be taken, and the 
other shall be left. Two shall be in the field: 
the one shall be taken, and the other left. And 
they answered and said unto him, Where [or 
Whither], Lord? And he said unto them, Where 
soever the Body is, thither will the eagles be gath 
ered together." (Luke 17 : 34-37.) And to this 
marvellous occurrence, which Paul speaks 


of as one of the great mysteries (1 Cor. 1.5 : 51), 
do the words at the head of this discourse refer. 
" I saw," says John, " and behold, a door set open 
in the heaven, and the former voice which I heard 
as of a trumpet, speaking with me, Baying, Come 
up hither." That door opened in heaven is the 
door of the ascension of the saints. That trum 
pet voice is the same which Paul describes as re 
calling the sleepers in Jesus, and to which the 
Saviour refers as the signal by which His elect 
are gathered from the four winds, but which we 
have no reason to suppose shall be heard or un 
derstood except by those whom it is meant to 
summon to the skies. And that " COMB UP 
HITHER" is for every one in John s estate, even 
the gracious and mighty word of the returning 
Lord himself, by virtue of which they that wait 
for Him shall renew their strength, and mount 
up with wings as eagles. (Is. 40 : 31.) And thus, 
as the Psalmist sung, the Lord will hide them 
in the secret place of His presence from the 
vexation of man, and screen them in a taber 
nacle from the contradiction of tongues. (Ps. 31 : 
19, 20.) 

Such, then, is the termination of the earthly 
career of God s elect, for which the saints of 
every age have waited, longed and prayed.* 

* " At the roice of the archangel, the dead saints rise from 
the dust ; the living saints, in a moment in the twinkling of 
an eye are changed ; and both together are rapt up far above 
the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, long before He ii seen 


And such is the next great scene which may now 
be any day expected. I know of nothing in the 
prophecies of God, unless it should be the mere 
deepening of the signs that have already appeared, 
which yet remains to be fulfilled before this sud 
den summons from the skies : " Come, my people, 

by the inhabitant* of the earth." Cunningham on Apocalypse, 
3d ed., p. 491. 

" The being taken up to meet the Lord before the time of 
trial and judgment, would seem to be the manifest import of 
the promise to the faithful, in the Epistle to the Church at 
Philadelphia, as also that of our Lord s exhortation in Luke 
21 : 36." Richard Chester, Vicar of Bally clough, Mallow. 

11 Ere judgment comes on Christendom, the true Church 

will haye been, like Enoch, translated to heaven We 

are not comforted by the assurance of our being gathered to 
the grave in peace, but by the hope of being gathered to meet 
the Lord in the air, so that, when the judgments come, we 
shall not be amid the scene on which they are poured, but in 
the heavens whence they issue." Plain Papers, pp. 94-96. 

" It is evident, from 2 Cor. 6 : 4, that we are not to conceive 
of the transfiguration of the body as taking place at the end 
and in the general resurrection, for the apostle wishes it for 
his own person instead of death." Auberlen on D*n. and 
Rev., p. 332. 

" Daniel appears to be a type of those kept out of the hour 
of temptation. When all nations, kindreds and people are 
required to worship the image of the plain of Dura, he is not 
there." Apocalypse Expounded, vol. i, p. 207. 

" John 14 : 1-3, doth absolutely require an assumption from 
the earth of all the saints, after the same manner as Christ 
was taken up. And to this great head of doctrine, all those 
legends of the Catholic Church, concerning the assumption 
of the blessed Virgin, and other saints, do point. By being 
taken up, to be clothed upon by our house which is from hea 
ven, I believe that Christ s people will be delivered out of 
their trib>*l*tion." Irving on the Apoc., vol. ii, p. 1024. 


enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors 
about thee : hide thyself as it were a little mo 
ment, until the indignation be overpast ; for, be 
hold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish 
the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity." 
(Is. 26 : 20, 21.) Any one of these days or nights, 
and certainly before many more years have passed, 
all this shall be accomplished. Some of these 
days or nights, while men are busy with the 
common pursuits and cares of life, and every 
thing is rolling on in its accustomed course, 
unheralded, unbelieved, and unknown to the gay 
world, here one, and there another, shall secretly 
disappear, "caught up" like Enoch, who "was 
not found because God had translated him." 
Invisibly, noiselessly, miraculously, they shall 
vanish from the company and fellowship of those 
about them, and ascend to their returning Lord. 
Strange announcements shall be in the morning 
papers of missing ones. Strange accounts shall 
be whispered around in the circles of business 
and society. And for the first time will apostate 
Christendom, and the slow in heart to believe all 
that the prophets have written, have the truth 
brought home, that no such half-Christianity as 
theirs is sufficient to put men among the favorites 
of the Lord. 

Brethren and friends, these are neither dreams 
nor fables. They are realities, set forth in the 
infallible truth of God, and as literally true as 
anything else in the inspired Word. And as you 
value the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus, 


and take this holy book as an unfailing guide, be 
not faithless, but believing. And if you feel your 
self unready for such events, do not think of set 
ting them aside by scoffs and sneers. If they are 
in the purpose of God, as He so plainly says they 
are, and as I conscientiously believe they are, 
your unbelief cannot alter them. Better bestir 
yourself to be prepared, with your loins girded 
and your lamp trimmed and burning. There is 
chance for you yet to be among these favored 
ones whom God has engaged thus to keep out of 
the judgment plagues and sorrows ; but that this 
opportunity shall remain to you for another year, 
or month, or week, or day, or hour, no living 
man or angel of heaven is authorized to promise. 
What you do must be done quickly. To your 
knees, then, to your Bibles, and to the mercy seat 
of your God, O man, woman ! " Rend your 
heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the 
Lord your God." Let not another day pass leav 
ing you still in your sins ; " for in such an hour 
as you think not, the Son of man cometh." And 
may God in mercy grant us each the grace and 
diligence to be found of Him in peace, without 
opot, and blameless. 



EBV. 4 : 1-11. {Revised Text.) After these things I aw, and be 
hold, a door set open in the heaven, and the former voio which 1 
heard, as of a trumpet, speaking with me, saying, Com* up hither, 
and I will show thee the things which must take place after these 

Immediately I became in the Spirit, and, behold, a throne was* set 
in the hearen, and upon the throne one Bitting ; and he that was 
sitting [was] like in appearance to a jasper and a sardine stone, and 
a rainbow encircled the throne, in appearance like to an emerald ; and 
around the thron* twenty-four thrones, and upon the twenty-four 
thrones elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and on their heads 
golden crowns. And out of the throne go forth lightnings, and voices, 
and thunders ; and seven torches of fire burning before the throne, 
which are the seven Spirits of God : and before [or, the prospect 
from] the throne as it were a glassy sea, like unto crystal ; and amidgfc 
the throne, and around the throne, four living ones, full of eyes be 
fore and behind; and the living one the first like a lion, and the 
second living one like a young ox, and the third living one having 
the face like a man, the fourth living one like a flying eagle. And 
the four living ones, each one of them had around them six wingt 
apiece, and within they are full of eyes ; and they he ve not rest day 

( 233 ) 


and mifkt, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy [repeated eigkt times in Codex 
Binaiticus], Lord God the Almighty, who was, and who is, and who 
is to come. 

And whenseerer the living ones give glory, and honer, and thanks 
to Him that sitteth on the throne, to Him that liveth for the ages of 
the ages, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him tkat sitteth on 
the throao, and worship Him that liveth for the ages of the ages, and 
cast their crowns before the throne, saying : Tkem art worthy, 
Lord and eur God, to receive the glory, and honor, amd the pwe: 
because Thou didst create all things, and by Tky will tkey were, 
and were created. 

I HAVE said that this open door in heaven, and 
this calling up of the Apocalyptic seer through 
that door into heaven, indicate to us the manner 
in which Christ intends to fulfil His promise to 
keep certain of His saints " out of the hour of 
temptation ;" and by what means it is that those 
who u watch and pray always" shall " escape" 
the dreadful sorrows with which the present world, 
in its last years, will be visited. Those of them 
that sleep in their graves, shall be recalled from 
among the dead ; and those of them who shall be 
found living at the time, " shall be changed, in a 
moment, in the twinkling of an eye ;" and both 
classes " shall be caught up together in the clouds, 
to meet the Lord in the air." The same voice 
which John heard, even " the voice as of a trum 
pet," whether dead or living, they shall hear, say 
ing to them, " COME UP HITHER." And there shall 
attend it a change and transfer as sudden and 
miraculous as in his case. And as the seven 
Epistles show us these faithful ones in their suffer 
ings, conflicts, virtues, and victories on earth, the 
chapter before us carries us up to the contempla- 

L10TUR1 IX. CHAP. 4:1-11. 235 

tion of their estate and dignities in heaven. It 
is high and peculiarly holy ground that here 
rises to our view, and it becomes us to venture 
upon it with measured and reverent steps. It 
would seem, indeed, as if it were rather a subject 
for angels than for men ; but God hath caused it 
to be written for us, and has pronounced special 
blessing upon them that read, hear, and keep 
what has been thus recorded for our learning. 
" Secret things belong unto the Lord," and we 
may not trespass on that reserved, mysterious 
realm; "but those things which are revealed, 
belong unto us, and to our children forever ;" and 
it is our duty, as well as our privilege, humbly to 
inquire, and to search diligently into what has 
been prophesied of the grace and the glory which 
is to come to the saints. 

Discarding, then, that false humility, which is 
the offspring or the cloak of spiritual sloth, let us, 
in the fear of God, go forward with our investiga 
tions, and stir ourselves up to the effort to obtain 
some distinct ideas of what the blessed Saviour 
has thought it so important to show to His Church. 
Happy shall we be if the sublime King but admit 
us into His court, though He may not now take 
us into His counsel. We notice : 



And may Almighty God open our hearts to 
the subjoct, and the subject to our hearts ! 


The scene of this vision is in heaven ;- not IB 
the temple, as some have represented. The door 
which John saw, was an opening "in the heaven." 
The voice that he heard came from above. It 
commanded him to " Come up." And it was 
potent; for "immediately" he "became in the 
Spirit." It wrought an instantaneous rapture, so 
that the next opening of his eyes disclosed his 
presence in a supernal region. There is no allu 
sion to Jerusalem or to its temple. The whole 
scene is heavenly, and relates only to what is 
heavenly. It belongs to a realm above the earth, 
and above all the sanctuaries of the earth. 

The Rabbins dreamed of seven heavens. Paul 
speaks of three, in the highest of which he " beam 
unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a 
man to utter." But as John was commanded to 
write what he saw, and to communicate it to the 
Churches, and Paul was forbidden to describe what 
he saw and heard, this would seem to be a different 
heaven from that called " the third." The truth 
is, that anything above the earth the upper air, 
the region of the clouds, as well as the region of 
the stars, and beyond the stars the scriptures call 
"heaven." Other circumstances connected with 
this subject indicate, that what is here referred to, 
is simply the sky. " The sign of the Son of Man" is 
to be displayed in the empyrean, no further off 
from the earth than to be visible to men, yet it is 
to appear " in heaven." The place where the re 
turning Saviour is to meet His resurrected and 
translated saints, is, " in the air" " in the clouds." 

LECTURE IX. CHAP. 4:1-11. 237 

The heaven of this vision would therefore seem 
to be, indefinitely, the regions above us the fir 
mament the higher portions of the atmosphere 
which anvelops the earth. This, however, I take 
to be certain, that the location of what John be 
held, was not earth, but above the earth, and quite 
unconnected with the earth. 

Whether there was a literal, bodily transpor 
tation of the seer from the earth to the regions of 
space, is not stated, nor inferable from the de 
scription. Perhaps the apostle himself was not 
able to perceive how it was. Paul could not tell 
whether he was " in the body, or out of the body," 
when he " was caught up." This only he knew, 
that he was somehow present in "the third 
heaven," and that that presence was the same to 
him as a bodily transportation, equally real, and 
equally effective. It was the same in John s case. 
He tells us that he was called by a mighty voice to 
come up into heaven, and straightway " became 
in tlie Spirit" in some mysterious, miraculous, 
ecstatic state, wrought by the power of God 
which was, to all intents and purposes, a complete 
translation from Patmos to the hidden sky. He 
was not dead ; he was not in a mere swoon ; he 
had all his senses entire ; his ears heard ; his eyes 
saw ; his heart felt ; his capacity to weep and to 
speak continued with him ; and the thing was, in 
all respects, the same as a bodily carrying up to 
the heavenly sphere, where he found what he was 
commanded to describe. 

We notice also, that this vision sets forth what 


is to be after the fulfilment of the vision and let 
ters concerning the Churches. The links of con- 
secutiveness are distinctly expressed, and are by 
no means to be overlooked. The declared object 
for which the apostle was called up into the sky, 
was to be shown not what existed in heaven at 
the time, as some have mistakenly thought but 
" the things which must take place AFTEK" what he 
had already seen and described. The seven 
Churches, in all the amplitude of their representa 
tive significance, were first to run their course, and 
the order of things to which they belonged was to 
touch upon its end, before one jot of what is here 
portrayed was to be realized.* As John was 
called up just to be shown "the things which 
must take place after these things" of course, all 
that he saw and heard consequent upon that rap 
ture, can only be referred to the period next fol 
lowing the things of the first vision. That vision, 
as we have been led to conclude, and as we think 
must be admitted, embraces the whole continuity 
of the dispensation under which we are now living, 
and takes in the entire earthly Church-state, from 
the time of the apostles to the end of the age ; 
which is at Christ s coming again to receive His 
people to himself. That " end" we regard as very 

* " Prom the expression, * I will show thee what shall be 
after these things, we gather, that the facts set out under this 
vision are subsequent to the facts set out under the former 
vision; that all in the former vision which cometh within the 
condition of time, ia anterior to all in this vision which comee 
within the stme condition." Irving in loc. 

LBCTUKK IX. CHAP. 4:1-11, 289 

near; tut so long as it is yet future, the time to 
which this vision refers is also future. It relates 
to things which do not exist as yet, and which 
cannot become reality till that to which they are 
specifically said to he subsequent is fulfilled. It 
is therefore a picture of things in the sky, imme 
diately upon the first movement of the Saviour hi 
His coming to judgment, marked by the miracu 
lous seizing away of the saints from their associ 
ates on earth to the clouds of heaven. 

It is also to be observed, that the things fore- 
ihown in this vision, whilst they come after the 
first interference with the present order, still pre 
cede the great tribulation, and the scenes of judi 
cial visitation upon the apostate Church and the 
guilty world. Indeed, it is from what is here 
depictured, that those inflictions proceed. What 
John sees, is permanent. It continues through 
all that comes after, the same as seen at the first, 
The throne, the Elders, the Living ones, retain 
their places unchanged, and have direct connec 
tion with all that subsequently transpires. Kay 
the action of the seals, in chapters six and seven, 
which brings the great tribulation upon the 
world, and the still remoter action of the trump 
ets and vials, and the whole catena of judgments 
described in the afterpart of this book, proceed 
from, and depend more or less on, the scene of 
glory and power represented in these two chap 
ters. The realization of what they describe must, 
therefore, fall intermediately between the first re 
moval of sainta from earth,, and the forthcoming 


of the great troubles, and the destruction of Baby 
lon and Antichrist. In other words, it is a scene 
of things to be manifested in heaven, immediately 
succeeding the beginning of the judgment of the 
Church, and preceding the judgment of the world 
of apostates and sinners. It is a picture of the 
results of the former, and of the source and instru 
ment of the latter. 

There have been writers, I will not call them 
interpreters, who regard the contents of these two 
chapters as a mere scenic exordium to the revela 
tions that follow, intended to impress the writer 
or the reader s mind with the divinity and solem 
nity of what was to be communicated. Some 
have even fallen so low as to affirm that it is 
simply the creation of the writer s own fancy, 
meant to set forth how deeply he was impressed 
and pervaded with a sense of God s power and 
glory, and hence, in how fit a state he was to take 
in and express the mysteries of the divine pur 
poses. For such bald rationalism I have neither 
sympathy nor respect. If there is anything divine 
in the book, and everything in it proves to me 
that it is divine, the announcement of the object 
for which John was taken up to heaven to see 
these sights, must also be divine. It was a trumpet- 
voice from heaven that made it; and its effect 
was instantaneously miraculous, carrying the 
prophet by some mysterious unlocking of his in 
ner nature, quite away from earth. And that 
voice declared that John was thus called and 
transported to see, not what was to beget serious- 

LECTURE IX. CHAP. 4:1-11. 241 

ness in him, or merely to persuade the reader that 
there was something of moment to be told, but 
WHAT MUST TAKE PLACE after the fulfilment of the 
things pertaining to the Churches. What he was 
to be shown was not to prepare for the prophecy, 
but was itself the head and front of the prophecy. 
What he was to see was to become reality ; it was 
to come to pass ; it was in due time to be history 
and fact. And to apply this divine affirmation 
only to what follows these chapters, and not to 
what these chapters themselves contain, is like 
undertaking to render the play of Hamlet, with 
the part of Hamlet left out. ]STo, if there is any 
sacred prediction in the case, these chapters are 
A most vital element of it, without which, indeed, 
the remainder is but imperfectly intelligible. 
And upon evidences as solid as those which prove 
the inspiration of this book, I hold, that these two 
chapters are as substantially prophetic as any 
other part. They do not relate directly to the 
earth, but they compass a very grand part of the 
results of God s gracious doings in the earth for 
all these ages past, and a very grand part of what 
is to aflect the earth for all the recurring ages of 
the future. 

With these points settled, we are now prepared 
to look at the particulars which the magnificent 
picture brings to our contemplation. 

The first thing named, and that which is at 
once the central object of the vision, and of all 
that follows it, is A THRONE. The Scriptures con 
tinually speak of thrones, in connection with the 

VOL. I. 16 


sovereignty and majesty of God. They tell us 
that " the Lord hath prepared His throne in the 
heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all." (Ps. 
103 : 19.) Among the last words of the preceding 
chapter, Christ refers to His throne, and the 
Father s throne. And here the apostle sees " a 
throne in the heaven. 9 No intimations are given 
of the form of the magnificent obj ect. The throne 
on which Isaiah saw the Lord, was "high and 
lifted up;" and in another vision John saw a 
throne, "great and white;" but everywhere we 
are left to think of the power and authority of 
which the throne is a symbol, rather than of any 
particular form or material structure. A visible 
image was presented to the eye of the seer, but 
he does not stop to tell us what it was like. It 
was simply an undescribed, and perhaps inde 
scribable, seat of grandeur, greatness, majesty, 
and dominion. 

Nor was it the eternal throne of the Father, at 
least not in the position and relations which it 
occupies anterior to the time to which this vision 
relates. John sees it, not as long since fixed and 
settled in this locality and form, but just as it was 
taking up its rest in this place. It was being set 
as he was looking; idov, fat. The expression is 
in a tense which denotes unfinished action, reach 
ing its completion at the time of the seeing. 
Dean Alford objects to the phrase " was set," aa 
giving too much the idea that the placing of the 
throne formed part of the vision. But this is just 
exactly what the original expresses ; and it is im- 

LECTURE IX. CHAP. 4:1-11. 243 

portant, as showing that this vision refers to a 
new order of things, which first comes into being 
at the time to which the vision refers. The 
apostle s language implies, that the act of the 
placing of the throne where he saw it, was only 
being completed at the moment of his looking. 
That moment was the moment of his being called 
up from earth into heaven. The rapture of the 
saints, then, is the point of transition, where the 
present dispensation begins to end, and another, 
of which this throne is the centre, takes its com 
mencement. The passage is an exact parallel, 
both as to subject and phraseology, to Daniel 7 : 9, 
where the prophet says : " I beheld till the thrones 
were set (not cast down, as our version has it), and 
the Ancient of days did sit, whose throne was like 
the fiery flame." The vision embraced the placing 
of the throne, as well as the throne itself, and the 
locality it occupied.* 

" And upon the throne one sitting" There is no 
name mentioned, and no figure described; but 
we can be at no loss to distinguish who is meant. 
John was manifestly filled with mysterious awe, 
and his words sufficiently intimate that he was 
looking upon "the unnaineable, indescribable 
Godhead," in which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost 
are consubstantial, and the same. And yet there 
was visible manifestation. 

" He that was sitting [was~] like in appearance to a 

* So agrees also the author of " The Apocalypw Expounded 
by Scripture," rol. ii, p. 18. 


jasper and a sardine stone ;" not as to shape , for 
Deity has no shape, but in color and flashing 
brilliancy. The scriptural representations of the 
jasper are, that it is " most precious/ crystalline, 
and purple in hue. The sardine, or sardius, is 
also described as exceedingly precious, and of a 
beautiful bright, red, carnation color. It is capa 
ble of a particularly high and lasting polish. Unit 
ing the qualities of tint and brilliancy belonging 
to the purer specimens of these precious gems, 
we have the appearance of flames, without their 
smokiness a pure, purple, fiery, red, crystalline, 
flashing light. And this was the appearance of 
the unnameable and indescribable occupant of 
this equally indescribable throne. 

" And a rainbow encircled the throne, in appearance 
like to an emerald." The rainbow is one of the 
most beautiful and majestic of earthly appear 
ances. It is the token of God s covenant with all 
flesh, never again to destroy the earth or its in 
habitants, as in the flood. (Gen. 9 : 11, 17.) En 
circling this throne, the intimation is, that, al 
though a throne of judgment, it is not a throne 
of destruction, but one of conservation, which 
bears with it the remembrance and the stability 
of the ancient promise. From what the apostle 
subsequently saw go forth from this throne, and 
the shakings and overturnings in heaven and 
earth of which it was to be the source and means, 
fears might naturally arise as to the continuity 
of the earth as an organized structure for the 
habitation of God s creature*. But this rainbow 

LSCTUBS IX. CHAP. 4:i~J.Ji. J45 

around the throne forever scatters such apprehen 
sions. All these ministrations are under the 
symbol of the $~oachian covenant, which standeth 
forever. The idea that this world, and its crea 
ture inhabitants, are to pass into oblivion, is a 
foolish notion of poets, against which we have the 
special pledge and covenant of God, rehearsed in 
nearly every summer shower, and borne aloft as 
one of the glorious decorations of the judgment 
throne itself. 

And yet, the intimation is, that the fulfilment 
of that covenant is not to be always in the course 
of nature, as we now have it. The true iris is 
around the throne, but there is a change in it 
now. Its prevailing hue is light green " in ap 
pearance like to an emerald," which is an ap 
pearance having something additional to nature, 
or nature modified, with one part of it exalted and 
strengthened beyond its wont. The jasper and 
the sardine flash terrible glory, but over them is 
the soft-beaming emerald of promise and hope 
mercy remembered in wrath salvation over- 
spanning the appearance of consuming fire. 

" And out of the throne go forth lightnings, and 
voices, and thunders." These demonstrate that the 
throne is one of judgment, and that wrath is about 
to proceed from it. When God was about to 
visit Egypt s sins upon her, He " sent thunder 
[in Heb. voices ], and hail, and fire ran along 
upon the ground." "And Pharaoh sent and 
said, " Intreat the Lord that there be no more 
voices of God." (Ex. 9 : 23, 28.) When He wished 

246 a APGCALYP8B. 

to show Israel the terriblenegs of Hi anger with 
sin, " there were thunders and lightnings, and a 
thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the 
trumpet exceeding loud." (Ex. 19:16.) When 
He sent forth His wrath upon the Philistines, 
"the Lord thundered with a great thunder on 
that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited 
them, and they were smitten before Israel." (1 
Sam. 7 : 10.) So also was His displeasure ex 
pressed at Israel s demand for a king. Samuel 
said, " The Lord shall send thunder and rain [in 
wheat-harvest], that ye may perceive and see that 
your wickedness is great, which ye have done in 
the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king. And 
the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all 
the people greatly feared." (1 Sam. 12 : 17, 18.) 
These instances show us, that this is not a throne 
of grace, but a throne of judgment. These light 
nings, thunders, and voices, proceeding from it, 
tell of justice and wrath to be visited upon trans 
gressors. The river of water of life ia gone, and 
in its place is the terror and fire of judgment and 

" And seven torches of fire burning before the throne, 
which are the seven Spirits of God" These are not 
candlesticks or lamps within doors, but torches 
borne aloft without, speaking preparation for 
battle. When Gideon went forth in vengeance 
against the Midianites, his three hundred men 
took each a burning torch in his left hand, and a 
trumpet in his right, " and they cried, THE SWORD 
OF THE LORD, and of Gideon." (Judges 7 : 16, 20.) 

LHGTUltK IX. CHAP. 4:1-11. 247 

So in the prophetic announcement of the going 
forth of God s wrath upon Mneveh, the destroyer 
is described as displaying "flaming torches in 
the day of his preparation." (Nahum 2 : 3, 4.) So 
the throne which is set for the judgment of the 
world, hath before it its "torches of fire burning," 
charged with the fulness of consuming vengeance 
upon all the enemies of God; for they are 
" seven." The Spirit of God, in all His pleni 
tude, is these seven torches. That Spirit de 
scended on Jesus as a dove ; but here lie is the 
" Spirit of judgment, the Spirit of burning." (Is. 
4:4.) It is not peaceful Ught, but flaming indig 
nation, which is betokened, which at last sets the 
world on fire, producing that day "that shall burn 
as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that 
do wickedly, shall be stubble, and it shall burn 
them up, that it shall leave them neither root nor 
branch." (Mai. 4 : 1.) The throne speaks ven 
geance upon the guilty, and the Spirit of God is 
the spirit of the throne, the spirit of devouring fire. 
" And before [or, the prospect from] the throne 
as it were a glassy sea, Uke unto crystal." When 
Moses, and Aaron, and Nadab, and Abihu, and 
the seventy elders of Israel, went up unto the 
Lord on Sinai, " they saw the God of Israel ; and 
there was under His feet as it were a paved work 
of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of 
heaven in clearness." (Ex. 24 : 10, 11.) And in 
the vision of Ezekiel, the floor or plain on which 
the throne of God rested, was " the likeness of the 
firmament, as the color of the terrible crystal." 

248 TUM A.PUUALYP8*,. 

(Ezek. 1 : 22.) These several descriptions explain 
each other. This throne, and all surrounding it, 
or connected with it, had its place upon a plain, 
which resembled a wide sea, solid, transparent, 
and full of inexpressible beauty, splendor, and 
majesty. Though in the air, it was not hung 
there. It had a base. There is a pavement, like a 
sapphire stone, like a clear, cerulean, golden mer 
de glace, on which it, as the whole celestial assem 
blage, rests ; as we also read of the street of the 
heavenly city being " pure gold, as it were trans 
parent glass." (Rev. 21 : 21.) Heaven is not a 
world of mists and shadows, but of substance and 
beautiful realities. 

" And around the throne, twenty-four thrones; and 
upon the twenty-four thrones, Elders sitting, clothed in 
white garments, and on their heads golden crowns." 
There was more than one throne. In the centre, 
conspicuous, and majestic beyond description, was 
the throne of Deity ; but in a wide circle around 
it were twenty-four other thrones, distinct and 
glorious, but smaller and lower than that which 
is, by eminence, called " TJie Throne." Our trans 
lators call them " seats;" but the original word 
is the same in the case of the twenty-four in the 
circle, as in that in the centre. They are all 
" seats" certainly ; but a particular kind of seats, 
regal seats, seats of majesty and dominion, seats of 
royal assessorship with the enthroned One. Nor 
can we be much at a loss as to the persons who 
occupy them. 

They are not angels, but human beings. Thi 

LECTURE IX. CHAT* 4.1-11. 249 

is ascertained by the song they sing, in whisBh they 
speak of having been gathered out of the tribes 
and peoples of the earth. (Chap. 5 : 9.) 

They are not the patriarchs, Jews, or apostles, 
only ; for they are from " every tribe, and tongue, 
and people, and nation." (Chap. 5 : 9.) 

They are not unfallen beings, but ransomed 
sinnerg ; for they give honor to Christ for redeem 
ing them " Thou redtemcdst us by Thy blood."* 
(Chap. 5 : 9.) 

They are not disembodied spirits of the saints, 
but glorified subjects of grace; for they are en 
throned, crowned, and robed in white, which is a 
fruition of blessedness and honor which is every 
where reserved till after the resurrection and the 
glorifying rapture. Paul tells us that he was to 

f]ft f . Some critics and expositors have rejected this 
finis (us), for the reason that it is omitted in the Codex Alex- 
andrinus, and in the Ethiopic verson ; though the latter ia not 
much more than a loose paraphrase. The Codex Sinaiticus, 
however, which was discovered in 1860, and which is of equal 
antiquity and authority with the Codex Alexandrinus, contains 
it. The Codex Basilianus, in the Vatican, contains it. The 
Latin, Coptic or Memphitic, and Arminian, which are of great 
value, contain it. And to do all other MSS. and versions. 
And to discredit it, limply and only because it does not appear 
in that one single Codex of Alexandria, is most unreasonable 
and unjuit to the weight of authority for its retention. Dr. 
Tregellan, on full examination, was firmly convinced of its 
right to a place in the text, before the Codex Sinaitieus ap 
peared; and the pretence of tkis fyts in that MS., ought to 
settle tie queation of iU geauinenesi foraver. The evidence* 
from the context, also arf ue powerfully for a construction 
which neewnarily embraces it, whether expressed r not. W 
regard it as indubitably genuine. 


receive hia " crown of righteousness/ not at his 
decease, but " at that day" the day of Christ s 
coming to awake and gather His saints, and that 
the same is true of " all" who are to be partakers 
of that crown. (2 Tim. 4 : 8.) The entire scriptu 
ral doctrine concerning the state of the dead, for 
bids the idea that disembodied souls are already 
crowned and enthroned, although at rest in the 
bosom of God. Such rewards, Christ is to bring 
with Him (see chap. 22:12; 11:18 ; Is. 52:11); 
hence, no one receives them until He comes, re 
calls the sleepers, and completes that redemption 
of power for which all things wait. (See Eom. 
8 : 22, 23.) The coronation time, is the resurrec 
tion time ; and no one can be crowned until he is 
either resurrected if dead, or translated if living. 
Any other doctrine overthrows some of the plain 
est teachings of the Scriptures, and carries confu 
sion into the whole Christian system. And as 
John beholds certain subjects of redemption, 
robed, and crowned, and enthroned, as priests 
and kings in heaven, we here have (let it be noted) 
positive demonstration, that, at the time to which 
this vision relates, a resurrection and a translation 
Jiave already taken place. It will not do to say, that 
the picture is anticipative of the position and tri 
umphs of the Church after the seals, trumpets, 
and vials have run their course. They occupy 
these thrones, while yet the closed book, which 
brings forth the seals and trumpets, lies untouched 
In the hand of Him that sits upon the throne. 
Th*y see it there, and they vote the Lamb worthy 

LECTURE IX. CHAP. 4:1-11. 251 

to open it. They behold Him taking it up, and 
fall down and worship as He holds it. They are 
in their places when heaven receives the accession 
of the multitude which come " out of the great 
tribulation." (Chap. 7 : 11-14.) They have their 
own distinct positions when the still later com 
pany of the hundred and forty-four thousand 
gather round the Lamb on Mount Sion. And 
they are spectators of the judgment of great Baby 
lon, and sing Alleluia in glory as they see her 
fall. (Chap. 19 : 4.) Instead of anticipatim of the 
final result of the great day of the Lord, there is 
actual participation in the processes and adminis 
trations by which that result is wrought. 

They are " Elders" not only with reference to 
their official places ; for that term is expressive of 
time, rather than of office. The elder, is the older 
man ; and in the original order of human society, 
he was the ruling man because he was the older 
man. These enthroned ones are ciders, not be 
cause they are officers, but they are officers be 
cause they are elders. They are the older ones 
of the children of the resurrection. They are the 
first-born from the dead the first glorified of all 
the company of the redeemed the seniors of the 
celestial assembly ; not indeed with respect to the 
number of their years on earth, but with respect 
to the time of their admission into heaven. They 
have had their resurrection, or their translation, 
in advance of the judgment-tribulations, and are 
crowned and officiating as kings and priests in 
glory, whilst others, less faithful, are still slumber- 


ing in their graves, or suffering on the earth, 
They do not represent, by any means, the whole 
body of the redeemed, as some have supposed, 
but are exactly what their name imports the 
seniors of them the first-born of the household 
the oldest of the family, and hence the honored 

There certainly is, as we shall more fully see 
hereafter, a succession in the order in which the 
saints are gathered into their final glory. There 
are some who " escape" the tribulation, being ta 
ken to heaven before it comes ; there are others 
who suffer it, and are only taken to heaven out of 
it. Then, there is a peculiar company of sealed 
ones, who come in at a still later period ; and a 
" harvest of the earth," still subsequent to their 
appearance with the Lamb on Mount Sion, if not 
a still remoter bringing in of those under Anti 
christ, who " had not worshipped the beast, neither 
had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in 
their hands," all of whom together make up the 
fulness of " the first resurrection." And of these 
successive companies and orders, the enthroned 
ones of this vision are among the first, if not ab 
solutely the first. They are the seniors "the 

John saw but twenty-four of them ; but these 
were the representatives of many others. There 
were many priests and Levites under the old 
economy. The number of those who " were set to 
forward the work of the house of the Lord, was 
twenty and four thousand." (1 Chron. 23 : 8, 4.) 

LBCTU&S IX. CHAP. 4:1-11. 258 

But they were all arranged in courses of twenty- 
four (1 Chron. 24 : 3-5), so that never more than 
twenty-four were found on duty at a time. There 
were also many prophets appointed to praise God 
with instruments of song; but they too were 
arranged in twenty-four courses, each course with 
its own individual representative. (1 Chron. 25.) 
These were not human devices, but things speci 
ally directed by the Spirit of the Lord (1 Chron. 18 : 
11-13, 19), and meant to be " figures of the true," 
and " patterns of things in the heavens." (Heb. 9 : 
9, 23, 24.) Accordingly, we are to see in these 
twenty-four royal priests, but one course of as 
many more courses, all of which together do but 
represent thousands upon thousands of the same 
high and privileged class. Heaven is not an 
empty place, nor is it stinted in the number of its 
honored dignitaries. 

I find, then, in these enthroned Elders, the 
highest manifested glory of the risen and glori 
fied saints. They are in heaven. They are 
around the throne of Deity. They are pure and 
holy, wearing white, " which is the righteousness 
of the saints." They are partakers of celestial 
dominion. They are kings of glory, with golden 
crowna. They are settled, and at home in their 
exalted dignities; not standing and waiting as 
servants, but seated as royal counsellors of the 
Almighty. They are assessors of the great Judge 
of quick and dead, the spectators of all that trans 
pires in heaven and earth, and participants in the 
judgment of the world for its sins, the Church for 


its apostasies, Babylon for her impuritu, Anti-. 
christ for his blasphemies, and that old Serpent 
and his brood, for their ungodliness and wicked 
nesses during all these weary ages.* They are 
the Elders of the glorious house of the redeemed, 
and kings and priests in the temple and palace 
of the Lord God Almighty, whom all the earth 
shall obey, and all the ages acknowledge. 

And yet, there is another picture in the vision, 
which some take to be still higher. 

"Amidst the throne and around the throne" John 
saw "four Living ones," unfortunately called 
" beasts" by our translators, "full of eyes before, and 
beJwd; the first like a lion, and the second like a young 
ox, and the third ha,ving the face like a man, artd, the 
fourth like a flying eagle. And tJie four Living ones, 
each one of tJiem, had around them six wings apiece, 
and within they are full of eyes ; and they have not 
rest day and night, saying, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, 


What are we to understand by these ? They 
sing precisely the same song (chap. 5 : 9, 10) 
which the Elders sing. They give praise to the 
Lamb for having died for them, and for redeem 
ing them by His blood " out of every tribe, and 
tongue, and people, and nation." They say to 
the Lamb, " Thou redeemedst us to God by Thy 
blood." This settles the point that they are also 

* "Do ye not know that the 9aint* shall judge th* vrorldt 
Know yt not that we shall judge angels 9" (1 Cor. 6 : 2, S/) 

LECTURE IX. CHAP. 4:1-11. 256 

glorified men, not " beasts" at all, nor mere per 
sonifications of mute creation or nature s forces. 
The schoolmen, and t some of the later Fathers, 
took them to be the four Evangelists.* Hence, 
the lion of St. Mark, the eagle of St. John, &c. 
But this is fancy, and against the record ; for the 
four Evangelists were Jews, and these Living ones 
are from all tribes, tongues, peoples, and nations. 
Some interpret them of the redeemed in general, 
and as emblematic of the cardinal virtues of the 
saints ; but this also is quite too indefinite to meet 
the requirements of the vision. Some take them 
as representing the several dispensations; the lion, 
the patriarchal ; the ox, the Mosaic ; the man, the 
Christian ; and the eagle, the Millennial ; but we 
are dealing with living beings, who are all in their 
places before the Millennial dispensation comes 
into existence, and actually participating in its 
introduction. Others explain them as the forces 
of Providence, which is somewhat nearer the 
truth, if we understand it, not of Providence in 

* So Victormus, in his Scholia inApocalypsin. And 10 Adam, 
of St. Victor, the great hymnologist of th middl* agos, taught 
the Latin Church to sing : 

" Circa thronum magiitatis, 

Cum spiritibua beatis, 
Quatuor dirertitatit, 
Adstant animalia. 
* * * * 

Forma formant fl.g;urarum 
Pormas eyangelistarum ; 
Quorum imber doctrinarmn, 
Stillat in eccleaia." 


general, but of that economy of things which first 
comes into being at the resurrection; and of 
Providence, not as a mere impersonal thing, but in 
those personal centres whence the power issues. 

Perhaps the easiest and shortest way for us to 
get at the true explanation of this remarkable 
manifestation, is to go back to the ancient dispen 
sation, so much of which was copied exactly from 
these heavenly things. The Jewish writers tell 
us, that the standard of each tribe of Israel took 
the color of the stone which represented it in the 
high priest s breastplate, and that there was 
wrought upon each a particular figure a lion 
for Judah, a young ox for Ephraim, a man for 
Eeuben, and an eagle for Dan. These were the 
representative tribes, and all the rest were mar 
shalled under these four standards (Num. 2); 
Judah, on the east, with Issachar and Zebulon ; 
Reuben on the south, with Simeon and Gad; 
Ephraim on the west, with Manasseh and Ben 
jamin; and Dan on the north, with Asher and 
Xaphtali. In the centre of this quadrangular en 
campment was the tabernacle of God, with four 
divisions of Levites forming an inner encamp 
ment around it. It was thus that Israel was 
marched thfough the wilderness, under the four 
banners of the lion, the young ox, the man, and 
the flying eagle. These were their ensigns, their 
guards, their coverings, the symbols of powers by 
which they were protected and guided. They 
were parts of that divine and heavenly adminis 
tration which led them forth from bondage, pre- 

LEOTTTRJ5 IX. OHAJP. 4j l-ll. 257 

served them in the wilderness, and finally settled 
them in the promised land. Such at any rate 
was the earthly, outward, material aspect of the 
case. In Ezekiel s vision of the cherubim, we 
have the tame thing in its more interior and 
heavenly aspects. (Ezek. 1.)* 

To cover and guard, is thought to be the proper 
signification of the word cherub. After the ex 
pulsion of our first parents from Eden, cherubim 
were placed at the east of the garden " to keep 
the way of the tree of life" (Gen. 3 : 24) ; and the 
prince of Tyrus is likened to the cherub that 
covereth. (Ezek. 28 : 14.) A vision of the cheru 
bim, then, is a vision of them that cover, protect, 
guard, and keep. And in this vision of Israel s 
protectors and keepers, what did Ezekiel see? 
"Above the firmament was the likeness of a 
throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone, and 
the likeness as the appearance of a man above 
upon it." This was the throne of God. But 
under the throne, connected with the throne, and 

* Thus rendered by Milton, in Paradise Lost, Book ri: 

Forth rushed with whirlwind sound 

The chariot of patermal Deity, 

Flashing thick flames, wheel within whael undrawn, 

Itself instinct with Spirit, but conreyed 

By four cherubic shapes ; four facs each 

Had wondrous ; as with stars their bodies all, 

And wings wera set with eyes, with eyes tke wheel* 

Of beryl, and careering fires between ; 

Over their heads a crystal flrxaament, 

Whereon a sapphire throne. 

VOL. i. 17 


instinct with the life of the throne, was u the like* 
ness of four living creatures," who " ran and re 
turned as the appearance of a flash of lightning," 
and moved with complicated wheels, with high 
and dreadful rings, full of eyes. It was through 
them that the Spirit of the throne went forth, 
every way, whithersoever it would. And these 
living creatures, the executors of the will of the 
Spirit of the throne, had the same forms combined 
in each, which were borne upon the four banners 
of the children of Israel, the lion, the man, the 
ox, and the eagle. (Ezek. 1 : 10.) These cherubim 
were not human beings ; for they were doing ser 
vice in the Garden of Eden, when yet there were 
no human beings but Adam and Eve ; and at the 
time Ezekiel saw them, there were no human 
beings yet glorified, or, hence, capable of taking 
such offices. These cherubim were angelic be 
ings. " Of the angels He saith, He maketh His 
angela spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire." 
(Heb. 1 : 7.) " He shall give His angels charge 
concerning thee, and in their hands they shall 
beartheeup." (Matt. 4:6.) And what these cher 
ubim were in the ancient order, these "living 
ones" are in the order which obtains at the time 
to which this vision of John refers. They are re 
deemed men, glorified, and related to the judg 
ment-throne in heaven, and to the interests and 
affairs of the future kingdom on earth, as the 
cherubim are related to the throne and kingdom 
now, and in the former dispensations. They are 
the cherubim of the new order. They are joined 

LECTURE IX. CHAP. 4:1-11. 259 

directly to the throne of the new order. They 
are in the midst of it. They are around it. They 
are expressions of it. And they take the forms 
of the lion, the man, the young ox, and the flying 
eagle, for the reason that they are the heavenly 
powers who guard and cover the camp of the 
Lord, which, under them, the entire world is to 
become. Jesus tells us that " they which shall 
be accounted worthy to obtain that al&vo^ and the 
resurrection from among the dead, .... are 
(iffdrreJioi) equal unto the angels" (Luke 20 : 35, 36); 
and this is the vision of that declaration fulfilled, 
showing us certain preeminent classes of the 
eclectic resurrection and translation, not only an 
gelic as to their form of existence, but in the ex 
act positions which angels held in other dispen 

Ezekiel saw but four cherubim. The number 
was significant of the scene of their ministrations 
the world. But these four included and repre 
sented many more; for "the chariots of God" 
are " twenty thousand, even many thousands of 
angels." (Ps. 68 : 17.) And for the same reason 
John saw but four of these " living ones." This 
is the worldly number, and denotes that their 
office has reference to God s providence in the 
world. But in these four are embraced thous 
ands of glorified ones (see Ezek. 7 : 10), whose 
high distinction is to share the throne with their 
Divine Redeemer, as His ministers, and as exec 
utors of His will throughout eternal ages. 

They have wings, for they are angelic now; 


and more wings than their angelic predecewors, 
showing how fully they are capacitated for mo 
tion, and how much wider is the sphere of thair 
movements. The Israel of old was but one nation, 
the Israel they do for, is all the nations. 

They are fall of eyes, before, behind, and with 
in ; which is the symbol of intense intelligence, 
looking backward into the past, and forward into 
the future, and inward upon themselves and into 
the nature of things, and able to direct their ways 
and administrations with unlimited penetration 
and discretion. 

And they never rest, in the fervency and gran 
deur of their zeal, perpetually expressing the holi 
ness and glory of the Lord God Almighty, who 
was, and is, and is to come. 

Some have taken them to be the same as the 
Elders, only in other relations, and in other fea 
tures of their dignities and blessedness. I cannot 
so understand it. They have, it is true, the same 
priestly censers as the Elders, and they sing the 
same song of a common redemption, kinghood, 
priesthood, and dominion over the earth. But 
hey have, as a class, an individual distinctness, 
which is never lost sight of, and never confounded 
with the eldership. Even on earth, " there are 
diversities of gifts, and differences of administra 
tions;" and much rather will there be varieties 
of place and function in heaven. The Elders have 
crowns and thrones distinct from the central 
throne ; but these living ones have for their crown 
the very throne itself. They are joined to the 

LBCTUBI IX. OHAP. 4:1-11. 201 

throne ; they are in the midst of it, and directly 
express it.* They also lead the Elders in their 
adorations ; for " whensoever they give glory and 
honor, and thanks to Him that sitteth on the 
throne," then it is that " the twenty-four Elders 
fall down before Him that sitteth on the throne, 
and worship Him that liveth for the age of the 
ages, and cast their crowns before the throne," 
giving glory, honor, and power to the Almighty 
Maker of heaven and earth. The one class have 
more the semblance of counsellors, the other, that 
of executors, and the two together are the closest 
to God of all the redeemed. 

And these, my friends, are the dignities and 
glories to which you, and I, and all who hear the 
Gospel of Christ, are called and invited. There 
is not a prerogative of that celestial eldership 
not an office or possession of these living ones 
not a song they sing not an attribute they wear 
not a place they fill which is not this night held 
out and offered to every one of us. Oh, the 
grandeur, the blessedness, the sublimity of the 
overtures of the Gospel of Christ! And with 
your eye on these heavenly splendors, these celes 
tial princedoms and priesthoods, these eternal 
royalties with God and with His Son, Jesus 
Christ, and with your heart warmed with the con 
templation of their unfathomed excellency, I ask 

* " These four beasts are living emblems and ornaments of 
the throne, denoting a nearer admission than the twenty-four 
Elders." Bengcl t Gnomon in loc. 

262 TMI 

you, whether you are willing to despise and cast 
away this your golden opportunity to obtain them? 
I wish to put it to your conscience, man, 
woman, whether, after all this has been put within 
your reach, you can still hope for clemency, if 
you wilfully turn a deaf ear, and careletily let 
your chance go by ! I wish to have your honest, 
sober, practical decision on the question, whether 
you are willing to allow this world s fleeting vani 
ties, and damning sins and follies, to occupy and 
possess you in preference to these immortal re 
gencies, and eternal principalities and powers? 
Believe me, that I am in earnest in this appeal; 
for I make it as a messenger of God, ordained to 
deal with these holy things for your salvation. 
The Lord fasten it on your soul, and give each of 
us grace to let go friends, pleasures, comforts, 
home, country, freedom, life, everything, rather 
than let slip so blessed an opportunity for so 
great a prize ! 



RXY. 6 : 1-14. (Revised Text.) Aad I saw upom the right hand 
of Him that sitteth upon the throne, a book [or roll], written on the 
inside and on the back, fast-sealed with seven seal*. And I saw 
a mighty angel proclaiming with a great roioe : Who is worthy to 
open the book, and to loos* the seals of it ? And no one was able, 
"n the heaven, nor on the earth, nor under the earth, to open the 
book, nor eren to look upon it. And I was weeping much, because 
no one was found worthy to open the book, nor even to look upon it. 
And one from among the elders saith to me : Weep not ; behold the 
Lion from tha tribe of Judah, the Root of Darid, overcame [in /ojo-s, 
^ee chap. S : 21], to open the book and its seven Mali. 

And behold, and amidst the throne and the four living onei, and 
amidst the elders, a Lamb, standing, ae it had been slain, having 
seven horns and seven eyes, whioh are the seven Spirits of God, sent 
forth into all the earth. And He came and took [the book] from the 
right hand of Him that sitteth upon the throne. 

And when He took the book, the four living on-ss and the twenty- 
four elders, fell down before the Lamb, having each a harp and 
golden bowls full of incenses, which are the prayers of the saints ; 
and they sing a new song, saying : Thou art worthy to take the book, 
and to opea tks seal? of it ; for Thou wert slain, and redeemed** us to 


God by thy blood, out of every tribe and tongue, and people, and n* 
tion, and Thou madest us* unto our God, kings and priests, and we 
shall reign on the earth. 

And I saw and heard a voice of many angels around the throne, 
and the living ones and the elders, and the number of them was 
myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousand*, saying with a loud 
voice, Worthy is the Lamb which hath been slain to receive the 
power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, anil glory, amd 
blessing. And every creature which is in the heaven, and on the 
earth, and under the earth, and upon the sea, and all the things in 
them, heard I saying, To Him that sitteth upon the throne and to the 
Lamb [be] the bleating, and the honor, and the glory, and the domin 
ion for the ages of the ages. And the four living ones said. Amen ; 
and the elders fell down and worshipped. 

chapter continues the description of the 
-*- vision last had under consideration. The 
scene is still in the sky. The throne, the El 
ders, the Living ones, are still in view, the same 
as in the preceding chapter. But there is a ma 
king ready for great things, and hence a disclo 
sure of new items, which now claim our atten 

Prominent and first among these is a book, or 
rott, upon the right hand of Him that sitteth on 
the throne, written on the inside and on the back, 
feat-sealed with seven seals. It was doubtless 
there from the very first glance the seer had of 
this sublime display ; but it was kept out of his 
notice, at least reserved from the particulars of 
hii description, until this point, at which starts 

* 8en of the beet M33. read "tton" In place ef ui; bat tke senM is net 
altered by it, or by reading "they," an eon* MSB. do 1* tke rntzt cla*e, instead 
ef " / for the subject is settled by the preceding deelaratien te be the per 
son* uttering tke wag, namely, by tke pkrai;* "rsde&Htdst xrs;" tits genuine- 
neu ef which must b eoaaidere* establtakwJ sinew the discovery of the Codex 
Syaaitica* See nete on page 34t. 

L20TURB X. CHAP. 4:1-14. 265 

one of the sublimest scenes in heaven, and the 
occasion of the most tremendous convulsions and 
changes on earth. The meaning of it has been 
differently represented by different expositors. 
But the outlying facts, that it, and it alone, brings 
upon the scene the prime mover of the new song 
in heaven, and the great actor of. all the succeed 
ing events of earth; that He appears and deals 
with this book only in the character of the Lamb 
which had been slain; and that what He does 
with it is something from which all creation has 
shrunk back in unworthiness and inability to per 
form, ought to be sufficient to set us upon the 
track of the conclusion, that this book has its 
primary and most essential reference to redemp 
tion. It has been very well observed : " If it con 
cerned creation, there were no propriety in the 
Divine order of the piece, for the creation honor 
is all ascribed already (chap. 4 : 11), without 
either the presentation of the book or of the Lamb 
to our view. Nor, if it concerned creation, were 
there any fitness in presenting Him as a Lamb, 
and a Lamb slain ; because thus was He not, when 
He laid the foundation of the earth, and set His 
compass on the face of the deep. So, likewise, 
from considerations merely of order, we can per 
ceive that it is not revelation [any more than crea 
tion], with which this book is concerned ; for to 
reveal, is proper to Him as the Word, as the 
Prophet, as the Messenger of the covenant, as the 
Light between the cherubim, as the Apostle of 
our profession ; but it is not proper to Him as the 


Lamb which is slain. To reveal, is proper for Him 
in the form of a Man, and not in the form of a 
Lamb ; which Lamb, though it hath horns and 
eyes, hath not a mouth like the mouth of a man, 
to speak the glorious things of God, nor speaketh 
it ever during these visions, and therefore we 
suspect that this sealed book is not so much the 
symbol of revelation, as it is the symbol of re 
demption ; in which conclusion we are altogether 
confirmed by the song which the Living ones and 
the elders sung, over the taking of the book, 
which is altogether a song of redemption."* And 
if it is at all admissible that the Seven Epistles 
cover the entire career of the present dispensa 
tion, it is simply impossible, in any direct and 
proper sense, to accept this sealed book ae the 
book of the fortunes of the Church during these 
ages; for the book does not even appear until 
after the career of the Church is run. Those 
commentaries, therefore, which undertake to find 
in the opening of the seals of this book merely 
the history of the present dispensation, and think 
to exhaust their meaning in what they find in 
Gibbon, Alison, and the writers of this world s 
annals, must all pass for about so much labor lost ; 
and, so far as touches the proper understanding of 
these magnificent pictures, they are worse than 
worthless. They may furnish much that is use 
ful in other directions, and deserve respect for 
their research and ability, and help to show us 

* Irrlnf in loe. 

X. CHAP. 5:1-14. 267 

how many-sided and multifariously applicable 
God s great prophecies are, and demonstrate how 
the images of the mighty things to come are re 
flected in the histories which precede them ; but 
as expositions of what is chiefly and properly 
meant to be foreshown, they are simply mischiev 
ous failures. Having myself experienced the 
unfortunate bewilderment and confusion which 
they involve, and seen the confessed hesitation 
and embarrassment which they have ever en 
tailed upon all their authors and adherents, and 
tested, as I believe, the utter sandiness of the 
foundations on which they rest, I am satisfied, 
convinced, and confident, that they are just what 
I here pronounce them to be, namely, learned 
blunders, and erudite but by no means harmless 
mistakes. It is not ecclesiastical history, which 
this book is introduced to foreshow, but some 
thing to which all ecclesiastical history is only 
the prelude and introduction, and which the 
Scriptures call " The redemption of the purchased 

It may be well here for us to correct a mis 
apprehension which largely obtains in the com 
mon conception of what redemption is. When 
this word is used, most men s minds go back 
to the birth, life, death, and resurrection of 
Chiist, and think of something already accom 
plished and complete in the blessed facts of the 
blessed Saviour s history. This is well enough as 
far as it goes, and touches indeed, the great cen 
tral particulars on which redemption reposes. 


But, viewed as a whole, redemption ie a vastly 
wider and more wondrous thing. It stretches 
back through a history of six thousand years, and 
yet its sublimest part is still future. It includes 
all past dispensations and theophanies, and the 
coming and achievements of Christ in the flesh ; 
but it embraces still other dispensations, and more 
wonderful theophanies, and a more glorious ad 
vent of Christ, and vastly more far-reaching 
achievements, of which His miracles were the 
symptomatic pre-intimations. There is already 
much of redemptive power and blessing in the 
world. The truth is, that everything on earth 
rests on a mediatorial basis. The world stands, 
and man exists, only because of Christ and His 
undertaking to be our Saviour. But for His 
mediatorship, Adam would have perished the 
day that he transgressed, and never a human 
being would have been born. The very ungodli- 
est of the race owe whatever blessings they enjoy 
to the blood and engagement of Christ. Even 
the lower animals, and the very grasses of the 
fields, live and flourish by virtue of the same. 
Redemption is therefore so far a living force. 
Like a golden chain, it girdles the world, upholds 
it from destruction, and sustains, and blesses all 
the varied and successive generations on its sur 
face. But, all this sea of mediatorial mercies is 
as nothing, compared with what is yet to come. 
Redemption has its roots and foundations in the 
past, but its true realization lies in the future, 
and connects directly with the period and trans- 

LECTURE X. CHAP. fr:l-14. 269 

actions to which our text relates. The Scriptures 
everywhere point forward to Christ s Apocalypse, 
as the time when first the mystery nhall be fin 
ished, and the long process reach its proper con 
summation. Jesui talked to His disciples about 
the signi which were to precede His coming, and 
eaid, " When these things begin to come to pass, 
then look up, and lift up your heads ; for your 
redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21 : 28.) In 
His view, then, redemption proper, or in its true 
reality, lies far more in the future than in the 
past ; so much more that the past is hardly to be 
named apart from what is yet to come. And 
with all Paul s glorying in the cross, he did 
not hesitate to say : " If in this life only we have 
hope in Christ, we are, of all men, most misera 
ble ;" and that " the whole creation groaneth 
and travaileth in pain together until now ; and 
not only they, but ourselves also, which have 
the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves 
groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, 
to wit, the redemption of the body." (1 Cor. 
15:19; Eom. 8:22, 23.) He speaks of Chris 
tians as indeed " sealed with the Holy Spirit of 
promise," which he commends greatly, but which 
he pronounces the mere " earnest" or pledge- 
penny of something vastly greater of an "in 
heritance" still future, which is only to come at a 
yet unaccomplished "redemption of the purchased 
possession." (Eph. 1 : 13, 14.) To him, therefore, 
redemption is still largely a subject of hope. 
Theie is an inheritance pledged, and a possession 


purchased, but it is not yet redeemed. The action 
of claiming, disencumbering, and taking posses 
sion of it is still future. And it is just this action 
that is brought to our view in the taking up of 
this book and the breaking of its seals. 

The word redemption comes to us, and takes its 
significance from certain laws and customs of the 
ancient Jews. Under these laws and customs, it 
wa impossible to alienate estates beyond a given 
time. Whatever disposition one may have been 
forced to make of his lands, and whoever might 
be found in possession of them, the year of Jubi 
lee returned them to the lawful representatives of 
their former owners. Upon this regulation there 
was founded another, which made it the right 
of the nearest of kin to one who, through dis 
tress or otherwise, had alienated his inheritance 
to another party, to step in and redeem it ; that 
is, to buy it back, and retake it, at any time, or 
at such times not falling within certain stipulated 
intervals. When an inheritance was thus dis- 
poned away by ite rightful possessor, there were 
two books, or instruments of writing, made of 
the transaction, the one open, and the other 
sealed, specifying price and particulars. These 
books or mortgage-deeds went into the hands of 
the one to whom the property was thus made 
over. A sealed book thus became a standing 
sign of an alienated inheritance, but so held as to 
be liable to be recovered on the terms specified. 
And when any one legally representing the origi 
nal proprietor, was found competent to lift and 

LECTURE X. CHAP. 5:1-14. 271 

destroy that sealed instrument, and thus to buy 
back what had been disponed away, he was called 
the god, or redeemer, and the inheritance was 
considered redeemed, so far that he now had full 
right to dispossess of it whoever might be found 
on it, and to enter upon its undisturbed frui 

From this it will be seen, that the transaction! 
which John witnessed, in regard to this sealed 
book, accord precisely with this ancient arrange 
ment for the redemption of inheritances. And 
the coincidence is so complete, and sealed books 
in Scripture are so much confined to this particu 
lar sort of writings,! that I take it as separating 
this book in God s right hand from all other sub 
jects to the one subject of forfeited inheritances. J 
The idea that it must refer to matters of knowl 
edge, or information to be communicated, is a 
mere prejudice, derived from modern things, and 
not at all from any Scriptural allusions to sealed 
books. It is also incompatible with the intent of 
God s word, for it to be sealed up, in the literal 
sense of this passage ; for that word is given for 
opening, not concealing ; and for treating it as a 
sealed book, and not opening it to the people, 
Isaiah prophesied, and Christ himself confirmed 
fearful judgment upon the doctors of Jerusalem. 
And to make this book refer to things to be re 
vealed, is also in disagreement with what follows 

* In this connection, see Euth, chapter 4. 

t Sao Jeremiah 82 : 6-12. J So also Trying wi Joe. 


the breaking of the seals ; which was not for the 
reading of the book, for no reading followed, but 
only shouts of praise that a worthy Redeemer was 
found, and the action of judgment and destruction 
to dispossess usurpers and aliens. 

We also know very well, that there has been 
an inheritance forfeited and disponed away for 
these thousands of years, and that for all this time 
the proper heirs have lain out of it, and had no 
proper possession of it. That inheritance we 
know to be just ra ncara the all things in which 
man, in his first creation, was installed, and 
which God made good, and sin made evil. 
Everything testifies that it was a high, holy, and 
blessed investiture. But, alas, its original pos 
sessor sinned, and it passed out of his hands to 
the disinheritance of all his seed. The sealed 
book, the title-deeds of its forfeiture and mort 
gage, are in the hands of God, and itrangers and 
intruders have overrun and debased it. And 
from the days of Adam until now, those deeds 
have lain in the Almighty s hands, with no one 
to take them up or to dispossess the aliens. And 
even when the saints are caught up to the sky, 
they will find it still lying there, awaiting this 
very scene of the text, when the Goel adjudged 
worthy shall appear and take it up, and destroy 
the sad testimonial by breaking its seals forever. 

" Seven seals" are upon this book, indicative of 
the completeness of those bonds of forfeit which 
have all this while debarred Adam s seed from 
their proper inheritance. The original estate is 


totally gone from man, apart from some compe 
tent Redeemer. Just as the final taking of the 
book, and the breaking of its seals, eventnate in 
complete redemption, and the fall reinstatement 
of the acknowledged seed into the blessedness 
which sin forfeited, and the Goel redeemed, so 
those seals unbroken, set forth the completeness 
of the alienation, and the thoroughness of the in- 
cnmbrances which are upon the estate, until that 
competent Goel has performed his work. 

This book was " written within and an ike back." 
This again tends to identify it with these books of 
forfeited inheritances. "Within were the specifica 
tions of the forfeiture ; without were the names 
and attestations of the witnesses ; for this is the 
manner in which these documents were attested.* 

It is in the right hand of God. No literal hand 
is described ; but, so to speak, it was on the right 
hand of the undescribed and indescribable One 
who occupied the throne. This is significant of His 
high and supreme right to what the sealed instru 
ment binds. Failing from man, it reverted to the 
original Giver. Sin cannot vitiate any of the 
rights of God. Satan s possession is a mere usur 
pation, permitted for the time, but in no way det- 

* " For the manner of writing the contract, he who was to 
buy the ground wrote two instruments ; the one to be sealed 
with his own signet, the other he showed unclosed to the wit 
nesses, that they might subscribe and bear witness of that 
which was written. This, the witnesses did subscribe UPOR THB 
BACK of the inclosed instrument. Weemse on the Judicial Law 
/ Moses, chapter 80. 

VOL. i. 18 


rimental to the proprietorship of the Almighty, 
The true right still lives in the hand of God, 
until the proper Goel conies to redeem it, by pay 
ing the price, and ejecting the alien and his seed. 
The same is significant of the fact that this matter 
of the book and its seals is the principal subject 
of the transaction displayed; and furthermore, 
that the intensest holiness and sublimest power 
are required to be able or worthy to approach and 
take possession of the record ; for to come to the 
right hand of God, is to come to the highest place 
of exaltation and authority in the universe. 

But, along with the sealed book, appeared a 
mighty angel, asking with a great voice, if any one 
was prepared to take the book and break its seals. 
This farther accords with our interpretation, of 
the nature of this book, and shows that the for 
feited inheritance was now open for redemption. 
The description is not as if the privilege to re 
deem was now first opened. For all that John 
saw and heard, the proclamation may have been 
sounding long. But the time had come, when, if 
a competent Goel was to be found, he should come 
forward and exercise his right. The way was 
open before; but, no one having appeared till 
now, the great, universal, final call is made, 
that, if any one is worthy, he should now exer 
cise his power. 

The result of the call was, that "no one was 
able, in the heaven, nor on the earth, nor under the 
earth, to open the book, nor even to look upon it." 
Angels shrunk back from it as beyond their 

JUJSCTUSK X. OHAP. *:1-J4. 275 

qualifications. Heavenly principalities and pow 
ers stood mnte and downcast as they surveyed 
the requirements for the work. And yet, it 
would seem as if somewhere there had been ef 
forts making to achieve it. And what, indeed, 
have been all the endeavors of unsanctified men, 
in politics, in science, and in all the arts of civil 
ization, improvement, philosophy, and even re 
ligion, but to work out this problem of success 
ful repossession of what was lost in Adam, to at 
tain to that forfeited perfection and supreme 
good which has ever danced before their imagina 
tions. What, indeed, has been the spring of the 
activity of the under world, in these ages of se 
ductive effort with mortals, but to persuade men 
that they can make good the lying promise, " Ye 
shall be as God," and in spite of the Almighty, 
and without Him, to realize through human ex 
pansion and demoniacal guidance, the dream of a 
better destiny for the world and the race. It has 
also been in the plan of God so far, to drop the 
reins to His rebellious creatures, to permit the 
experiment to be carried to its utmost, and to 
give scope for its most conspicuous failure at 
the last Varied, and many, and complicated, 
have been the attempts, all of which, as they 
always must, have resulted in disastrous failure. 
Egypt attempted to play the goel for the world, 
and cringed to the bloodiest tyrannies, bowed to 
the worship of the basest of creatures, and went 
down in ignominious ruin. Babylon tried it, and 
became the world s great symbol of all that 10 


blasphemous in power, impure in life, besotted 
in affection, and terrible in desolation. Greece 
tried it, and only consummated her destruction 
in the marriage of the intellect of heaven with 
the vices of hell. Borne tried it, and became the 
Iron arm which threshed the world in blood, and 
then dissolved in the putrefaction which itself 
had wrought. The spirit of liberty, democratic 
confederation, and universal communism and en 
lightenment, uniting largely with elements of in 
fernal origin, is now trying it, and will perpetuate 
its eflbrts to the most gigantic and bewitching 
consummation that the world shall ever have 
seen, but only to work out the most dreadful 
failure that has yet occurred. For, as in heaven, 
so on earth, and under the earth, the ultimate 
record will be, what is here written : " no one was 
able, to open the book, nor even to look upon it" The 
lost estate of man, by man, or angel, or spirits of 
the under world, can never be recovered. 

It is a sad and melancholy contemplation. 
Heaven, itself, seems to grow silent and breath 
less under it And the tender and loving heart 
of John overflows as the picture opens before 
him. " I was weeping much, because no out was 
found worthy to open the book, nor even to look upon it." 

Some speak of these tears as mere tears of 
disappointed curiosity. This, indeed, is the com 
mon explanation. We are told that the book had 
unknown revelations in it, which John was very 
impatient to understand; and that his much 
weeping was caused by the prospect of having his 

X. CHAP. 4:l-a4. 277 

personal desire to obtain a knowledge of the fu 
ture, ungratified. Poor John ! what a silly mor 
tal, to be troubling himself about unrevealed 
prophecy, and to keep up this crying in heaven 
because there was no one to open the book for 
him ! The thing is absurd. It is beneath criti 
cism. And if we cannot get through our inter 
pretations without such left-handed compliments 
to the " natural emotion" of men " in the Spirit," 
it seems to me that it would be the part of fair 
ness and honor, to confess frankly that the sub 
ject is beyond our comprehension. I am very 
certain that if John had looked upon these sol 
emn and mighty transactions as some of his com 
mentators have represented them, we would not 
only never have heard of these tears, but they 
never would have been shed. What a picture of 
inspiration, that it should thus strip a venerable 
and disciplined servant of God of all manly dig 
nity, and make of him a silly and peevish child ! 
No, no ; John knew by that Spirit in which he 
was, what that sealed book meant. He knew 
that if no one was found worthy and able to take 
it from the hand of God, and to break its seals, 
that all the promises of the prophets, and all the 
hopes of the saints, and all the preintimations of 
a redeemed world, must fail. He understood the 
office of the Goel, and that if there was failure at 
this point, " the redemption of the purchased pos 
session" must fail. Could it be possible that this 
should be ? Had he all this while been hoping, 
and preaching, and prophesying what should, 

278 TBTE APOD Ail* SB. 

after all, not be accomplished? Was the prom 
ised inheritance, now at the ripened moment for 
its recovery, to go by default into eternal aliena 
tion? How could he bear the thought? Yet 
such were some of the suggestions of this interval 
of blankness and awful pause in heaven. And in 
this view of the case, well might an earnest 
prophet weep without damage to his meekness or 
his honor. But in this chief mourner over the 
unopened book, we may see the state of the 
Church up to that time, a widowhood house 
hold, weeping before the Lord over the spolia 
tion of its inheritance. Do not His own elect 
" cry day and night unto Him," to avenge them 
in this particular ? Do not the sons of the bride- 
chamber continually weep and fast because the 
Bridegroom is taken from them, and His house 
oppressed by the children of the alien? That 
book, unlifted and unopened, is the Church s 
grief and distress. It bespeaks the inheritance 
unredeemed the children still estranged from 
their purchased possession. But that book 
opened, is the Church s joy and glory. It is the 
assertion of her reinstatement into what Adam 
lost the recovery to her of all of which she has 
been so long and cruelly deprived by sin. Until, 
therefore, that book is opened, and its seals bro 
ken, the people of God must remain in privation, 
Borrow, and tears. 

But, blessed are they that mourn, for they 
shall be comforted. Such anxious and tearful 
longing for the "better country" and the ran- 

LECTURE X. CHAP. 5:1-14. 279 

Bomed inheritance, is noticed in heaven, and has 
mapy precious assurances from thence. One of 
the Elders said unto John : " Weep not; behold the 
Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Hoot of David, 
overcame to open the book and its seven seals." And 
this is what the Church has been hearing from 
her elders, and prophets, and apostles, and min 
isters, in all the ages. It is the very essence of 
the Gospel, which has been sounding ever since 
the promise in Eden, that the seed of the woman 
should bruise the serpent s head. It is what all 
the ancient types prefigured, what the songs of 
the prophets foretold, and what the first Christiana 
and their successors went heralding over all the 
earth. It has been the only comfort of God s 
children in all these ages of their disinheritance, 
a comfort which has cheered their pilgrim steps 
through life, illumined their passage to the grave, 
and will be the joy of their souls as they stand 
waiting in heaven for the consummating victory 
of Him who has thus far been so uniformly trium 
phant on so many trying fields. Jesus is the 
Lion sprung from Judah. He is this Boot of 
David the foundation on which the Davidic 
hopes repose. He overcame, in the trials of life, 
in the temptations in the wilderness, in the ago 
nies of the garden, in the terrors of death, and in 
the bonds of the grave. He hath gone up, lead 
ing captivity captive. He is Victor now over 
law, and sin, and death, and hell. He hath paid 
the redemption price of the forfeited inheritance. 
He is the true Goel, who, having so far triumphed 


and been accepted, will also prove ready and 
worthy to complete His work, by lifting those 
long-standing deeds of forfeiture, and breaking 
their debarring seals. Such is our faith, and hope, 
and comfort, here re-confirmed to us from heaven. 
And what we find in the further particulars of 
this vision, is simply the picture of its accomplish 

" And behold, and amidst the throne, and the four 
Living ones, and amidst the Elders, a Lamb, standing, 
as it had been slain." The description of the loca 
tion of this Lamb, is of the same sort with that 
of the Living ones. They were "amidst the 
throne, and around the throne;" that is, they 
were seen everywhere within the bounds of the 
throne, from centre to circumference, as if the 
life and being of it, present in every part. And 
so this Lamb was amidst the throne, the Living 
ones, and the Elders visibly omnipresent within 
these bounds, as if the animating soul of all the 
Life of the life of the throne, and of the forms of 
being and dignity about it. 

He who appears here as a Lamb, is the same 
whom the Elder had just described as a Lion. 
The two titles might seem to be incongruous. 
What more opposite than the monarch of the 
forest, in strength and majesty, inflicting terror 
and death, and the lamb, in its uncomplaining 
meekness, in the hands of the sacrificer. But the 
two pictures do not conflict. They supplement 
each other, and combine to bring out what could 
not be otherwise so well portrayed, and yet what 

IflBCTOBE X. CHAP. 5:1-14 281 

the nature of the case required. The opening of 
the seals, is an act of strength an exploit of war 
a going forth of power to take possession of a 
kingdom. As one after another is broken, out 
flies a strong One in fierce assault upon the ene 
mies and usurpers who occupy the earth. There 
is terror and destruction at every successive move 
ment. And in the accomplishment of this, Christ 
is a Lion, clothed with power, and majesty, and 
terribleness. But the character in which He 
overcame, and became in that respect qualified 
for this work, and that in which He presents Him 
self before the throne as a candidate to be ad 
judged worthy to do it, is that of the sacrificial 
Lamb, who had innocently and meekly suffered, 
bearing our sins in His own body, and vanquish 
ing all legal disabilities by His atoning blood. It 
is in this character of a Lamb that was slain, who 
overcame by His perfect obedience unto death, 
and who paid the price of redemption in His meek 
sufferings, that He is adjudged "worthy to take 
the book, and to open the seals of it." It is by 
His sacrifice as a Lamb slain, that He comes to 
the qualifications for the further office of a Lion, 
to assert and enforce His supremacy. Both these 
characters are essential, hence, both appear in the 
description. "He was led as a Lamb to the 
slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is 
dumb, so He opened not His mouth" (Is. 53 : 7) ; 
but He is yet to "send forth judgment unto 
victory" (Matt. 12: 20). As the Lamb, He hath 
" borne our sorrows and carried our iniquities," 


and stands before the throne in passive Iminilhr 
tion and loyal suffering; but it is reserved for 
Him, as Judah s Lion, " in righteousness to judge 
and make war," and to enforce the indignation of 
that throne against all who stand out in rebellion 
against it. 

He is here described, not by the ordinary word 
used to signify a lamb, but by another 
more intensely significant of gentleness 
and domesticity a pet lamb in sharp contrast 
with the mid beasts, in opposition to whom He is 
arrayed. This, the more fully brings out His 
particular mildness and familiar identification 
with His people, and the utter inexcusableness 
and guilt of those savage and untamable ones 
who persist in rejecting, persecuting, and warring 
against Him. They wrong and injure the gent] est 
and most inoffensive of beings they murder the 
pet Lamb of the family of God.* 

* There is a passage in Isaiah (16), with which this de 
scription seems also directly to identify itself, and which the 
more helps to confirm our whole interpretation of this vision. 
In our version it reads : " Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the 
land from Sela, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion." 
But neither the original, nor any of the other versions, so give 
it. The true rendering of the words, in conformity with the 
Vulgate, Luther, and some other translations, would be : "Send 
ye [or I will send] the Lamb, the Ruler of the land, from Sela of 
the wilderness unto the mount of the daughter of Zion." It 
falls in with Hab. 2:3. It identifies the Lambhood with fu 
ture Bulership of the earth. And as He appears in thia vision 
as tho Goel, to recover and repossess the inheritance, it is in 
exact accordance with the character in which He was anciently 
prophesied of, that He should make His appearance as the 
I*mb advancing to take the Rulership of the world. 

i. CHAP. ft:l-14. 

You will notice the attitude of this Lamb 
a standing" Though He had all the appearances 
of recent slaughter, He is alive, upon His feet. 
The resurrection of Christ is not a myth, biit a 
fact. The same John who saw Him dead on Cal 
vary, here sees Him alive in heaven alive in the 
body, with the marks of slaughter upon Him. 
We believe not in a dead Christ only. Our faith 
does not terminate with a sepulchre. It tak^s in 
a living Redeemer, who is as much upon His feet 
as if He never had been dead, and qualified by 
His having died for what He never could have 
done, had he not surrendered His life and gone 
down among the dead. And with these tokens 
of His slaughter, as the once dead but now living 
Lamb, He stands before the throne stands ac 
cepted and approved stands for those who ac 
cept Him as their Redeemer stands for the 
maintenance of their cause and the fulfilment of 
their hopes. 

" Having seven honw." Here is the intimation 
that something more than sacrifice and interces 
sion is now to be His business. The horn is the 
symbol of strength and aggressive power. Moses, 
in blessing Joseph, says : " His glory is like the 
firstling of Ilia bullock, and His horns are like 
the horns of unicorns : with them He shall push 
the people together to the ends of the earth." 
(Deut. 33 : 17.) We find the same imagery in 
Psalms (89 : 17, 24), applied both to Christ and 
His people, and in both instances connected with 
strength and conquest. Zechariah (1 : 18, 19), 


says : " I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and be 
hold four horns. And I said unto the angel that 
talked with me: What be these? And he an 
swered me: These are the horns [that is, the 
powers], which have scattered Judah, and Israel, 
and Jerusalem." The horn thus stands for impe 
rial, kingly, and aggressive power. Seven is the 
number of completeness. So that whilst Christ 
appears here as the sacrificial Lamb, He is at the 
same time possessed of the fulness of imperial 
strength and mighty force. He has ability for in- 
rincible conquest, as well as meekness for patient 

And with the " seven horns" are " seven eyes, 
which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all 
the earth." When Isaiah prophesied of the Sod 
out of the stem of Jesse, he said : " The Spirit of 
the Lord shall rest upon [have its home in] Him." 
And he enumerated seven in the blessed fulness 
of the holy endowment : First, " the spirit of wis 
dom;" second, "the spirit of understanding;" 
third, "the spirit of counsel;" fourth, "the spirit 
of might;" fifth, "the spirit of knowledge;" 
sixth, "the spirit of the fear of the Lord;" and 
seventh, " the spirit of quick understanding in the 
fear of the Lord." (Is. 11 : 1-3.) Thus has in 
spired prophecy identified, and described in ad 
vance, these very " seven Spirits of God," which 
here come to view as the " seven eyes" of the 
Lamb. His horns show His fulness of imperial 
power ; His eyes show His fulness of intellectual 
and spiritual power. His is not a blind force, but 

LECTURE X. CHAP. 1:1-14. 286 

an almightiness directed by perfect and all-search 
ing intelligence, and divine understanding. Upon 
that BRANCH which God was to lay as the chief 
corner-stone of the mystic temple, were also 
" seven eyes eyes of the Lord, which run to and 
fro through the whole earth." (Zech. 3:8, 9; 
4 : 10.) And this Lamb is that selfsame Branch 
and Corner-stone; and these are the selfsame 
eyes of all-penetrating vision and completeness of 
spiritual and universal wisdom. 

Three grand qualities of the Goel are thus 
brought to view \-Jirst) sacrificial virtue, to take 
away sin ; second, aggressive strength to conquer 
and to overcome all foes ; and third, perfect and 
universal intelligence, direct from the indwelling 
Spirit of God in all its fulness. Such were the 
qualifications with which He appeared amidst the 
throne, the Living ones, and the Elders, and ad 
vanced to take the book and break its seals. 
And when it is considered, that no qualifications 
less than these would answer, we need not wonder 
that no one else in heaven, earth, or under the 
earth, was found worthy to open the book, or even 
to look upon it. Who among the angels of God 
could show such spotless innocence, maintained 
amid such trials such meek and meritorious 
submission such victory over the inexorable de 
mands of a violated law such triumph over the 
anmutilated power of death such perfection of 
aggressive might such intensity of spirituality, 
intelligence, wisdom, and Godly comprehension ! 
Well might the mightiest messenger of God, with 


the greatest voice, Bend ont through the universe, 
and all heaven pause in mute and solemn waiting, 
and not find such another. Brethren, there is but 
one sun in our system, and there is but one Christ 
in the universe. 

" And He came and took [the book] from the right 
hand of Him that sitteth upon the throne. 9 This is 
the sublimest individual act recorded in the 
Apocalypse. It is the act which includes all that 
suffering creation, and the disinherited saints of 
God have been sighing, and crying, and waiting 
for, for all these long ages for six thousand 
years of grief and sorrow. It is the act which 
carries with it all else thai is written in the suc 
ceeding part of this glorious revelation. It is the 
act by virtue of which the world is subdued, 
Babylon judged, Antichrist destroyed, the dragon 
vanquished, death overthrown, the curse ex 
punged, the earth made new, and the reign of 
everlasting blessedness and peace made to cover 
its hills and illuminate its valleys, and transform 
it into an unfading paradise of God. It was the 
lifting of the title-deeds of the alienated inherit 
ance the legal act of repossession of all that was 
lost in Adam, and paid for by the blood and 
tears of the Son of God. Heaven looks on in 
solemn silence as that act is being performed. 
The universe is stricken with awe, and grows 
breathless as it views it. And the Living ones, 
and Elders, and all the hosts of angels, are filled 
with adoring wonder and joy, as if another 
had gone forth from God for a new creation. 

LBCTUBS X. CHAP. J:l-14u 287 

" And when He took the book" there went a thrill 
through the universal heart of living things. 
" The four Living ones, and the twenty-four Elders 
fell down before the Lamb." A song which was 
never sung before, broke from their lips. John 
hears the lofty anthem rolling sublime through 
AND TO OPEN THE SEALS OP IT ; for Thou wert slain, 
and redeemedst us to God by Thy blood, out of every 
tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and Thou 
modest us unto our God, kings and priests, and we 
shall reign on the earth" Nor they alone were 
moved to new and intenser adoration; but 
"around the throne, and the Living ones, and 
the Elders," and afar in the depths of space, he 
" heard the voice of many angels, and the number of 
them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of 
thousands, saying with a loud voice: WORTHY is THE 


and still wider spread the sympathetic response 
of adoring rapture. There was not a holy heart 
unmoved, nor a holy tongue that did not lift up 
its song. " Every creature which is in the heaven, 
and on the earth, and under the earth, and upon the 
sea, and all things m them," John " heard saymg, To 
THE AGES. And the four Living ones said, AMEN ; 
and the Elders fett down and worshipped." 


Now, to take all this sacred pomp, and univer 
sal thrill of adoration, as the mere Proem to a few 
chapters of dim and often untraceable outline of 
the Church s history in this world, I confess to 
you, looks to me as little less than blasphemy. 
Not for my right arm, not for my right eye, could 
I consent so to regard it. Where, in all the reve 
lations of eternity, is there another such a scene ? 
"Where, in all the disclosures of God, and His 
awful administrations, is there another such a 
picture, or another such a crisis? Search the 
book of inspiration from end to end, and you will 
find no parallel to it. Even the great voice of 
the mighty angel would inquire for the like in 
vain. I must therefore take this act of the Lamb, 
so far from being the mere fancy work of John, 
or even of the Holy Ghost, as involving the head 
ing up and highest consummation of the highest 
things of our faith, and of all the contents of the 
revelation of God. And as the view which I 
have given of it, and that only, assigns to it a sig 
nificance commensurate with such awful and uni 
versal solemnities, I feel that I am planted on the 
rock of immutable truth in teaching you so to 
accept it 

And strikingly confirmative is still another 
particular in the description, which does not ap 
pear until after the Lamb has taken the book. 
In the preceding chapter, when the Living ones 
and Elders- paid their adoration, it was unto Him 
that sitteth upon the throne; and their cry of 
WORTHY, was to Him who created all things, and 

LECTURE X. CHAP. 6:1-14. 289 

by whose will they were, and were created- But 
here they fall down before the Lamb, and cry 
their WOBTHY, nnto Him that was slain, and hai 
redeemed them with His blood. And in connec 
tion with their new song to Him who holds the 
book, they are described as " having each a harp 
and golden, bowls futt of incenses, which are the pray 
ers of the saints. 9 I find here nothing of that 
saint mediatorship with which the Church in 
some sections and ages has been so much de 
bauched, and the glory of her true Intercessor so 
much obscured. Christ has just now been ac 
knowledged as the possessor of the ability and the 
right to enter, with His redeemed ones, upon their 
inheritance. It is therefore the time for all the 
prayers of all the saints of all the ages to come into 
remembrance, that that which has ever been their 
chief burden may now be answered and fulfilled. 


HABTH AS IT is IN HEAVEN." So have all Chris- 
tians ever prayed. Such ia the theme of all true 
supplication, as it looks out over futurity, and 
utters the spirit of faith and hope. And who can 
reckon up the volumes and oceans of such en 
treaties, which remain to this day unanswered ? 
But, not one of them is lost. They are all care 
fully treasured in golden bowls. They are as 
sweet incenses before God and before the Lamb. 
And when we come to take our places with our 
Lord, and He takes the book of forfeiture to 
break its debarring seals, then will those supplica 
tions come into play ; and blessed he who has his 

VOL. I. 19 


bowl fall of them. The picture is not that of 
saints in heaven officiating for saints on earth; 
but of saints in heaven holding up to Christ their 
own prayers, and the prayers of one another, and 
the prayers of all saints, that now they may be 
fulfilled to the making of things on earth as they 
are in heaven that now the answer which has 
been so long delayed may be speedily accom 
plished. And the harps bear upon the subject in 
the same direction. As the incense connects 
with the priest s office, so the harp connects with 
the prophet s. Samuel said to Saul: "Thou 
shalt meet a company of prophets coming down 
from the high place, with a psaltery, and a tabret, 
and a pipe, and a harp before them, and they shall 
prophesy." (1 Sam. 10 : 6.) We read of six sons 
of Jeduthun, " who prophesied with a harp." (1 
Chron. 25 : 3.) David says, of his prophetic utter 
ances, "I will open my dark sayings upon the 
harp." (Ps. 49 : 4.) And the holding up of these 
incense prayers and prophetic harps together 
before the Lamb as He takes the book, is that He 
may now remember and fulfil what all His holy 
prophets have spoken and sung, as well as what 
all His saints have prayed. Both combine to as 
sure us, that it is the very summit and consum 
mation of all pious desire, and all sacred predic 
tion and song, that is involved in this taking of 
the book. 

And to the like end is the hopeful and joyous 
exclamation at the conclusion of the lofty anthem 
which these Living ones and Elders sing to Hin 

L10TURE X. CHAP. 6:1-14. 291 

who holds the lifted book. " And we shatt reign 
on the earth." Why express themselves thus, just 
at this point? Because this taking up of the 
book was the pledge and proof that now He was 
fully invested and ready to redeem the inherit 
ance, and to carry into effect the blessed prom 
ises, that " the meek shall inherit the earth," and 
that " the kingdom, and dominion, and the great 
ness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, 
shall be given to the people of the saints of the 
Most High." (Matt. 5:5; Dan. 7:27.) It was 
now certain to sight that all was about to be liter 
ally fulfilled, and that their golden crowns and 
dignities were not mere empty things, but carry 
ing with them all that such marks import. 

Some people tell us that it is quite too low and 
coarse a thing to think of the earth in connection 
with the final bliss of the saints. They preach 
that we do but degrade and pervert the exalted 
things of holy Scripture, when we hint the decla 
ration of the wise man, that " the earth endureth 
forever," and that over it the glorious and ever 
lasting kingdom of Christ and His saints, is to be 
established in literal reality. But if the ransomed 
in heaven, with golden crowns upon their brows, 
kneeling at the feet of the Lamb, before the 
very throne of God, and with the prayers of all 
saints, and the predictions of all prophets in 
their hands, could sing of it as one of the ele 
ments of their loftiest hopes and joys, I beg to 
turn a deaf ear to the surly cry of " carnal " 
" sensual " " wispmtiial " with which sorn* 



would turn me from " the blessed hope." Shall 
the saints in glory shout : " We shall reign on the 
earth," and we be accounted heretics for believing 
that they knew what they were saying? Is it 
come to this, that to be orthodox we must believe 
that these approved and crowned ones kneel be 
fore the throne of God with a lie upon their lips ? 
Shall they, from thrones in heaven, point to 
earth as the future theatre of their administra 
tions, and give adoring thanks and praises to the 
Lamb for it, and we be stigmatized as fanatics 
and Judaizers, for undertaking to pronounce the 
blessed fact in mortal hearing ? Oh, I wonder, I 
wonder, how the dear Gk>d above us can endure 
the unbelief with which some men deal with His 
holy word. 

Shall we then keep silence on the subject? 
When the Living ones and Elders fail to sing 
about it in heaven; when inspired apostles no 
longer admit the subject into their holy writings; 
then, but not till then, let it be dropped from the 
discourses of our sanctuaries, and from the incul 
cations of them that fear God. And woe, woe, to 
that man who is convinced of its truth, but, for 
the sake of place or friendship, refrains from con 
fessing it! "Well has it been said of him: "He 
barters away his kingdom for the applause of 
men. He eclipseth the glory of Christ to enhance 
his own." He stultifieth the adoring songs of 
celestial kings, that he may win a little empty 
favor by base pandering to the pleasure of axs 
ignorant, unbelieving, and godless world. 



Biv. 6 : 1, 2. (Revised Text.) And I law whn the Lwab opened 
one from among the seven deals, and I heard one from among the four 
living oner eaying, as the voice of thnnder, Go [or, Com* f The 
words, "and tee," are doubtful, and generally rejected by critic*, j 

And I aw, and, behold, a white horse ; and he that sat on him hav 
ing a bow ; and a crown was given to him : and he went forth con 
quering, and to conquer, 

ANEW turn of the vision which John began 
to describe in the fourth chapter, now cornea 
before us. The scene and actors are unchanged, 
but the manifestations all move earthward. The 
sealed book has been lifted out of the hand of the 
Sitter on the throne. It is in the possession of 
Him found worthy to take it, and able to break 
its seals. The universal thrill of exultation over 
the fact has subsided. Everything in the heav- 



enly presence has become quiet with reverem 
expectancy. And the Lifter of the document now 
proceedi to destroy its seals. May God help us 
to a right comprehension of the mysterious trans 

Two things are to be considered, 


L There are many who assume, that what is 
here treated of under the imagery of the opening 
of the seven seals, is the continuous fortune of the 
Christian Church and the Roman world, from the 
time of John s banishment, or soon thereafter, to 
the consummation of all things. By this class of 
interpreters, the opening of the seals was the 
opening of a prophetic roll, containing an outline 
of the triumphs of the Gospel, in connection with 
the great world-powers, down to the coming of 
Christ, and the introduction of the Millennial 
reign. That there is truth of some sort under 
lying this view, we may readily admit ; b ut that 
it is exactly of the kind which the advocates of 
this theory usually describe, we may just as 
readily question. 

The amazing pomp, solemnity, and universal 
demonstration, with which the opening of these 
seven seals is approached in the two preceding 
chapters, forbids the assumption, that nothing 
more is meant than the disclosure to the Church 
of a dim epitome of its earthly history. God does 

L10TUBE XI. OHAF. : 1, 1. 295 

not employ BO ranch parade, nor do all the angeli 
and principalities of eternity become so pro 
foundly enthusiastic, over the letting forth of a 
few scarcely traceable predictions, touching the 
earthly successes of the Gospel, the reigns of a 
few Roman Emperors, and the mere mundane 
fortunes of Christian confessors. 

The several particulars in the preliminary de 
scription, also, prove that something transcend- 
ently higher is intended, than has transpired since 
the vision was seen, or that ever will transpire 
within the limits of the present dispensation. 
The Elders already have their crowns, the giving 
of which belongs to the resurrection period. (2 
Tim. 4 : 8.) The throne comes to its place just at 
the moment in which John beholds it (chap. 4 : 2), 
betokening a new administration other than that 
which had previously been. Christ appears as the 
Lamb, which is not the character of a Revelator ; 
but it is the character of the predicted "Kuler of 
the land" about to take possession of the inher 
itance. (Is. 16 : 1.)* The question of worthiness 
and ability, presented a condition wholly unheard 
of in all the multiplied instances of the giving of 
sacred predictions. The bringing forward of the 
prayers of the saints, and the joyous utterances 
of the prophets, shows that more is embraced 
than a laying open of the course of this world s 
history; for prayer and prophecy have quite 
another burden. The much weeping of John is 

* See Lecture X, p. 282, note. 


rendered ridiculous, if referred to a feeling of dis* 
appointment at not being able to find out a little 
more prophecy. The universal and adoring glad 
ness of all the angels, and all holy beings, can 
find no adequate justification in the mere disclo 
sure to men of the occurrences cited by the his 
torical school as the fulfilment of the seals, trum 
pets, and vials. The entire absence of any reading 
of what was written, either on the inside or on 
the outside of the book, or of any reference to 
anything supposed to be recorded in it, should 
lead us to question that the breaking of its seals 
had reference to the rehearsal of its contents. 
And the character of the manifestations, along 
with concurrent explanations, as seal after seal 
was broken; besides the numerous cross lights 
from other parts of Scripture; all combine to 
prove, that something else is signified than the 
history of the present dispensation. 

There is also a link of consecution, given in 
the record itself, which must not be overlooked. 
We hold it to be out of the question, in all just 
exegesis, to give an adequate explanation of the 
vision of the stars and candlesticks, including the 
seven Epistles, without making it span the entire 
earthly church state. The objections that have 
been urged to the contrary, are futile in the ex 
treme, and can be made to weigh as heavily 
against any scheme of Apocalyptic interpretation, 
as against this. And if the scope of the first 
vision stretches to the period of the consumma 
tion, it ia settled that everything relating to this 

XI. CHAP. 6:1,2 297 

book and its seals, refers above all, not to things 
which run parallel with the earthly charch state, 
but to " the things lohich must take place AFTER these 
things" (chap. 4:1); that is, to another adminis 

But, as the coming administration of power is 
to be the consummation of the present dispensa 
tion, and as all its wonderful actings of sovereignty 
and judgment move in the same line of God s 
providence with men and nations now ; as a mat 
ter of course, an imperfect fulfilment through all 
the ages of the present order is also embraced. 
The resurrection of Christ and the distribution 
of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, was the germ of 
everything that is to be when the final consum 
mation is complete. The preaching of the Gospel, 
and its struggles with the world-powers in this 
dispensation, is the embryo of everything to come. 
It is the justification of believers, and their anoint 
ing to eternal regency and priesthood; and it is 
the judgment of the world and of Satan, with 
prelibations of the doom that awaits them. Only, 
the thing is not yet consummated, actualized, and 
manifested. Nor will it be, in the present order, 
until Christ s coming with power, to enforce, by 
a new administration, what is now realized in 
part, but is still mainly prospective. Accordingly, 
the breaking of the seal of the sepulchre, the 
outpouring of spiritual power upon the apostles, 
the visitations upon antagonizing potencies, and 
all the victories of the Gospel in the course of the 
earthly church state, are really precursory fulfil 


ments of the opening of these seven seals, and 
are in some sense included in them. 

There is, then, a solid basis on which, within 
certain limitations, the views of the Preterist, 
who traces the events under the opening of the 
seals in the course of history since John s time, 
and the views of the Futurist, who refers them to 
the period of the judgment hereafter, may be 
harmonized, and both accepted, without either 
one impairing the distinctness or truthfulness of 
the other. The only prerequisite to the entertain 
ment of both is, that the two should be homo 
geneous, and that the one fulfilment should be 
regarded as inchoate, and only a sort of prelimi 
nary and imperfect rehearsal or earnest of the 
other. Solid objections may certainly be urged 
against the doctrine of a double sense of Scrip 
ture ; at any rate, against a double sense of such 
sort that one is of a wholly different nature from 
the other. But it is not to be doubted or denied, 
that many sacred prophecies have embraced 
events of the past, which nevertheless still travail 
with blessing, and await a further and completer 
fulfilment. Many of the Old Testament predic 
tions of the coming of the Christ, if not the most 
of them, embraced at the same time, and without 
distinction, what was partially fulfilled in his first 
coming, but is to be much more largely fulfilled 
at his second coming. Who can question that 
Haggai 2 : 6, 7, has received some partial illustra 
tion in the first advent ? Yet the Holy Ghost, in 
Heb. 12 : 26, teaches us still to await its complete 

SfiCTURE XI, CHAP. :l r l. 299 

fulfilment. The inspired Peter informs us that 
the promise given, in Joel 2 : 28, has, in part, at 
least, been accomplished. (Acts 2 : 47.) And yet, 
surely, the word is big with blessed things for the 
future. Enoch s prophecy (Jude 14, 15) may rea 
sonably be supposed to have had some reference 
to the flood then impending, whilst its language 
yet directs us forward to the future coming of the 

Bacon has well observed, that there is a " lati 
tude which is agreeable unto Divine prophecies, 
being of the nature of the Author, with whom a 
thousand years are but as one day, and therefore 
they are not fulfilled punctually at once, but 
have springing and germinant accomplishments 
throughout many ages, though the height or ful 
ness of them may refer to some one age."* And 
it is altogether reasonable, and accordant with the 
nature of the subject, to agree, that something of 
this sort is to be found in the instance before us, 
giving us precursively and imperfectly the same 
things through the course of centuries, which are 
to be finally and perfectly consummated in the 
new administrations which the period of the great 
judgment is to bring forth. 

Without questioning, therefore, that these fore- 
showings embrace the general spirit and tenor oi 
the Church s history in this world, or that an im 
perfect and germinant fulfilment of the opening 
of these seals may be traced through the events 

* Adrnncement of Learning, Book 2. 

800 TH1 APOOALYP81. 

of the past, I must yet refer their height and fal* 
ness altogether to the future, and assign them 
their complete fulfilment only in that momentous 
section of time, which intervenes between the 
termination of the present order, and the full 
establishment of the everlasting kingdom and 
reign of Christ and his saints over all the earth. 
With a very able and eloquent preacher of the 
early part of this century, I take the opening of 
these seals as significant of the Lion-Lamb s entry, 
by successive stages, upon the right and posses 
sion of the earth, and his actings of judicial power 
and sovereignty whereby he asserts and enforces 
his claim and title as the victorious kinsman of 
our fallen race, to the end that all its territory, 
kingdoms, peoples, and tongues may thencefor 
ward be manifestly and in fact his forever. In 
other words, its sets before us the Apocalypse of 
Jesus Christ, in his relation to the world, and his 
administrations toward the nations, after his elect 
of the Church have been caught up from their 
trials and their graves to their heavenly thrones. 
It is the judicial proceeding of the Almighty G-oel, 
to rid " the purchased possession" of the dynasties 
of wickedness, to cast out the rulers of the dark 
ness of this world, to restore the earth to its 
proper fertility and peace, and to bring in the 
empire of righteousness and salvation. 

The portion of the Apocalypse covered by these 
seven seals, includes everything between the fifth 
and twentieth chapters; the seventh seal taking 
in the set en trumpets, and the seventh trumpet, 

L10TUR1 XI. OHAF.6:1,2. 01 

the seven last plagues, with the battle of the great 
day of God Almighty. 

The period of time more directly covered by 
these seven seals, is that which lies between the 
assumption of the resurrected and translated 
saints of the first class, and the full instalment 
of the millennial order, when Satan is bound, the 
first resurrection completed, and the blessed and 
holy who have part in it reign with Christ as his 
kings and priests. 

I have several times explained, that the first 
thing to be looked for in the great and marvel 
lous transactions embraced in the consummation 
of all things, is the mysterious coming of the 
Lord Jesus to take those that wait and watch for 
him, with such of the dead as have fallen asleep 
in the same attitude. Good people are apt to be 
thinking of dying, and of being ready for death. 
But no true Christian has any right to count on 
dying. There is something that is more certain 
than death. There are some who will never die. 
Those who are alive and waiting for Christ when 
he comes, shall never taste of death. They shall 
be " taken" as Enoch was taken, as Elijah was 
taken, as Romanists allege that the Virgin Mary 
was taken, and as some say the Apostle John was 
taken. The words of Paul upon this point are 
too plain to be misunderstood. He says, " The 
Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a 
shout, . . . and we which are alive and remain 
shall be caught up ... in the clouds, to meet the 


Lord in the air : and so shall we ever be with th 
Lord." (1 Thess. 4 : 16, 17.) I have no idea that 
a very large portion of mankind, or even of the 
professing Church, will be thus taken. The first 
translation, if I may so speak, will embrace only 
the select few, who " watch and pray always" that 
they "may be accounted worthy to escape all 
these things that shall come to pass, and to stand 
before the Son of man." (Luke 21 : 36.) " In that 
night there shall be two in one bed ; the one shall 
be taken, and the other shall be left. Two shall 
be grinding together ; the one shall be taken, and 
the other left. Two shall be in the field ; the one 
shall be taken, and the other left." (Luke 17 : 34, 
86.) The idea is that the great body of the Church 
even, will be " left." And this assumption of the 
saints to immortality, which may occur any of 
these passing days or nights, and certainly is to 
be devoutly awaited as very near, is the first 
signal act by which the great period of the con 
summation is to be introduced. 

But it will not, of itself, materially change the 
ordinary course of earthly things. The world will 
still stand, with all its wicked populations, and its 
apostate churches. Indeed, then only will com 
mence the time when evil shall rush unhindered 
to its highest bloom of daring and blasphemy. 
That which hindered, being taken away, " then 
shall that wicked be revealed, . . . whose coming 
is after the working of Satan with all power and 
signs and lying wonders, and all deceivableness 
of unrighteousness in them that perish; because 

LECTURE XL OH AP. 6:1,2. 803 

they received not the love of the truth, that they 
might be saved." (2 Thess. 2 : 7-10.) 

What immediately follows the translation of 
the elect saints, has two aspects : one as it relates 
to things in heaven, the other as it relates to 
things on earth. What relates to heaven, we have 
had described to us in the sublime vision of the 
Throne, the Living ones, and the Elders. What 
relates to earth, is set forth under the opening of 
these seven seals. 

The exact number of years covered by what is 
described under these seals, is not specifically 
given ; unless, indeed, this should be the mystic 
seventieth week of Daniel, as generally supposed 
by the Fathers, and affirmed by many well- 
deserving modern interpreters. To the latter 
portion of this period, there is a specific duration 
assigned. A term of " forty and two months" 
" a thousand two hundred and threescore days" 
"a time, times, and half a time," that is, a period 
of three years and a half, is several times men 
tioned ; first, in reference to the treading down of 
the city by the Gentiles ; second, in reference to 
the prophesying of the witnesses ; third, in ref 
erence to the flight of the woman into the wilder 
ness ; and fourth, in reference to the beast s per 
secuting power. All these appear to be synchro 
nous, and to fall very much, if not entirely, within 
the same period of time. And as the dominion 
of the beast ends with the battle of the great day, 
with which the action of the seals, trumpets, and 
vials sums up, we have only to date back from 


that consummatioD, to find at least three and a 
half years before the end, through which the 
opening of these seals is to run. 

But it is quite manifest that this is not the en 
tire period embraced. It is only under the seventh 
seal, and the sixth and seventh trumpets, that 
these three and a half years come in ; showing 
that there must be a period preceding them, of 
not less than equal length for the foregoing six 
seals. And when we take into account how Dan 
iel s seventieth week is divided, and that it in 
only the latter half of it that takes in those con 
summated impieties which mark the beast s reign, 
it is rendered almost certain, that three and a half 
years more are to be added before the last three 
and a half; thus making full seven years in all, MI 
the space covered by these seals, and their in 
cluded trumpets and vials. 

Some have taken these numbers mystically, and 
so have made out a much longer period. But, I 
am persuaded, that no such elongation of these 
dates ever has had, or ever will have, an exact, or 
anything like a complete fulfilment. They are 
literal, not symbolic. And when we consider 
how intensely the number seven pervades this 
entire book, and connect its notes of time with 
those given in the book of Daniel, there appears 
to be sufficient reason to conclude, that just seven 
literal years are spanned by the transactions set 
forth under the opening of these seals ; no less, 
and hardly any more. 

An important feature of doctrine is thus brought 

XL CHAP. 6:1,1. 306 

out, well worthy of notice as we pass. It is this, 
that the day of judgment, like the day of the 
Lord, is not a day limited to twenty-four hours, 
as people often erroneously imagine. All the 
acts described under these seven seals, are acts 
of judgment. Every scene is a judgment scene. 
The throne is a judgment throne. The agencies 
are all messengers of judicial power. Their op 
erations are all connected with judicial awards. 
The finished work presents Satan and his world- 
powere vanquished, the saints in resurrection 
glory on their thrones, and the kingdoms of this 
world become the kingdoms of our Lord and 
of his Christ forever. There is another and 
final judgment scene, at the end of the thousand 
years ; but all the elements of that, and more, are 
found in what is described under these seals, 
trumpets, and vials. Indeed, that is only the 
finishing up of what is here so vigorously begun. 
The one gives us the morning, and the other the 
evening, of the great day of judgment viewed as 
a whole. The judgment ia not one simple act, 
but a series of varied administrations, which do 
not reach all alike, nor all at the same time. 
It begins at the house of God, before it at all 
touches the world, except in a mere symptomatic 
way. And when it comes upon the present world- 
powers, it takes in many diverse and successive 
acts, running through the course of years, and 
finally concludes a thousand years afterward, by 
the conei eminent of Satan and all his seed to " the 


lake of fire," which is " the second death." (Rev. 
20 : 14, 15.) 

We accordingly have in the events set out un 
der the opening of these seals, the characteristics 
and leading facts of a grand transition period. A 
time of judgment is always a time of transition. 
It is the closing up of one order of things, and 
the opening of another. And this is eminently 
the nature of the transactions here described. 
They show us how the present world-powers, with 
their Satanic intermixtures, are to terminate, and 
the exact particulars by and through which an 
other and better order is to be reached; one 
which is finally, by still another putting forth of 
judicial energy, to be resolved and settled into 
what shall be disturbed no more. 

EL With these remarks touching the scope of 
these seals, we proceed to the particulars de 

The number of the seals is seven, indicative of 
the completeness of the administrations to which 
they refer. They are arranged in two distinct 
groups of four and three. It is the reverse of the 
order presented in the groupings of the seven 
Churches. There we had first three, and then 
four perfection first and worldly deterioration 
afterwards. Here we have first four, and then 
three, intimating advance from worse to better, 
from earthiness to heavenliness. 

The first four seals are mainly distinguished by 

LKOTUB1 XL CHAP. 1:1,1 807 

the part which the four Living ones hare in the 
proceedings, and the appearance of a horseman 
in connection with each. In all of them, the ac 
tion goes ont from heaven, and proceeds from 
the enthroned powers on high. The effect, how 
ever, is uniformly on earth, or on what relates to 
the earth. Some of the scenes are exceedingly 
disastrous and revolutionary. It would sometimes 
seem as if everything were falling into utter de 
struction. But, amid all the extraordinary and 
fearful shaking, upheaval, and commotion, in 
earth and sky, our planet still continues revolving 
in its place, and reappears from every scene, 
however terrible, neither depopulated of its gen 
erations, nor stripped of its proper investiture or 
elements. There is suffering, change, and an 
accumulation of awf ul and destructive prodigies ; 
but there is no missing of our mundane orb, and 
no interruption to the succession of its seasons, 
or the continuity of the orders of being with 
which God has peopled it. 

As soon as the first seal was broken, " one from 
among the four Living ones" spoke. Some have 
said that it was the lion ; but it is not said which 
it was, Neither does it matter, as all four are 
equally concerned, and successively speak pre 
cisely the same thing. 

It is, perhaps, worthy of note, that where the 
Living ones and Elders speak separately, there is 
this distinction between them: that when the 
subject concerns heaven, and matters of instruc 
tion, the Elders speak; and when it concern* 


earth, arid the going forth of power, the Living 
ones speak. 

The speaking in this case was as with " the 
voice of thunder." It is the tone of terror, maj 
esty, and judgment, in keeping with the charac 
ter of the throne, and the nature of the pro 
ing, which is that of judicial administration. 

The cry itself is very brief *?%*> ! It ma; be 
equally rendered (?o, or Come ! Our translators 
give it about as often one way as the other It 
does not alter the sense here whichever ^vay 
we take it. It is not an address to John, as 
many have regarded it, and as the questionable 
addition to the text " and sec" would seen to 
require. John was already on the spot, behold 
ing all th?t was transpiring, and did not need to 
be called any nearer, or to remove any further 
off. And if his nearer approach or further de 
parture had been needed in the case of the first 
horseman, it could not have been needed for the 
succeeding ones. But we find the same com 
mand repeated in each successive instance. Nei 
ther can we explain why it should be such a voice 
of thundering power, if it was simply a call to the 
ieer. Critics agree that the words, "and see" 
should be omitted. 

Nor is it a call addressed to Christ, as others 
have supposed. That the Saviour should come, 
or go forward with his grand redemptive adminis 
trations, may well be conceived to be the earnest 
desire of the Living ones in heaven, as it should 
be of the saints on earth, and aa it is of the whole 

LECTURE XL CHAP. :!!. 309 

suffering creation. But the same cry is uttered 
in the case of the three succeeding horsemen, in 
neither of which is Christ the rider. The cry is 
also one of official command, rather than of sup 
plication. The voice of thunder is not the yoice 
of prayer. And, at the time of this cry, Christ 
is already present. The prayer for his coming is 
then not properly in place. The expression is 
really nothing more nor less than a bid of power, 
calling the several horsemen into action. 

It is the teaching of Christ and his apostles, 
that " the saints shall judge the world" " shall 
judge angels." (1 Cor. 6 : 2, 3.) They are to share 
in the administrations of power against the un 
godly world, and against the hosts of the wicked 
one, both human and angelic. And here is where 
the fulfilment of that teaching, in part at least, 
comes in. These Living ones are glorified saints. 
They are connected with the throne of judgment. 
They express the mind, and enact the will of that 
throne. Much of its power toward the earth goes 
out through them. They are enactors of the ju 
dicial energy of Him who sits upon the throne. 
And it is in this capacity that they speak the word 
" Go !" And as they speak, so it is. As soon as 
it is uttered by them in heaven, it is already potent 
on earth. John hears the command above, and 
at once he sees it doing execution below. 

What, then, does he see ? Mere power is an 
abstract quality, and not a subject of sight. It 
must put on shape in order to be seen. Mere 
effects would not so well, so clearly, and in ao 

810 *Hfl APOOALYl SB!. 

summary a manner, display its character and 
movements. The significance of the command 
accordingly embodies itself in living forms. John 
beholds horses, with riders on them. They are 
not literal horsemen, but symbolic pictures, in 
which are shown the characteristics and doings 
of the invisible Goers, put into action through the 
Living ones. They are the powers of the Lion- 
Lamb, as the Almighty Lord and Judge of all, 
administered by glorified saints, exalted to par 
ticipation in his sublime prerogatives. Judgment 
upon the world has commenced, and here are the 
symbols of its manifestation. 

"And I saw, and, behold, a white horse; and he 
that sat on him hiving a bow ; and, a crown was given 
to him : and he went forth conquering, and to conquer" 
It has been a common error, to regard this as a 
symbol of the success of a preached Gospel. The 
progress of the truth is indeed included, after the 
manner that I have explained; but history fur 
nishes nothing which can be set down as the ful 
filment of this prophetic picture. The Gospel, as 
now preached, is not, and in the present order of 
things never will be, triumphant. This is de 
monstrated in the seven Epistles, and is the com 
mon teaching of the Scriptures on the subject. A 
leading feature in its entire history is, that it is 
mostly rejected. It is universally preached " as a 
witness to all nations," but nations, as such, with 
all their patronage, have never received it, and 
have ever been the slayers of its witnesses. The 
description, again, is not one of progress merely, 

LECTURE XL CHAP. :!,. 311 

but of a primary sending forth. The Gospel, as 
now preached, was sent forth more than half a 
century before this vision. And the vision itself 
is prefaced with the statement, that it refers to 
what was to take place after the seven Churches, 
and hence after the time of the apostle. Neither 
is a victorious conqueror on a war-steed a fitting 
image of " the foolishness of preaching," or the 
work of beseeching men to be reconciled to God. 
A sower going forth to sow, or a peaceful am 
bassador, is the scriptural picture of the preacher. 
And it is quite out of the spirit and scope of the 
Apocalypse, to find here the patient and forbear 
ing ministrations of grace, as we now have them. 
We must, therefore, look for some other meaning. 
Nor does it lie remote. We need not consult 
the Roman medals or Gibbon s pages, to find it 
Scripture itself is always the best interpreter of 
Scripture, if we only let it tell its own story. 

Who has not felt a check of awe upon his heart, 
when contemplating that magnificent description 
in the book of Job ? " Hast thou given the horse 
strength ? Hast thou clothed his neck with thun 
der ? Canst thou make him afraid as a grass-hop 
per ? The glory of his nostrils is terrible. He 
paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength. 
He goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh 
at fear, and is not affrighted : neither turneth he 
back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against 
him, the glittering spear and the shield. He 
swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage : 
neither believeth he that it is the sound of th 



trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha j 
and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder 
of the captains and the shouting." (Job 39 : 19- 
25.) Put upon that animal now the rider of the 
text, crowned with sovereign power, and rushing 
forth to conquest unceasing ; and say whether this 
is the sort of picture which represents a Gospel 
preacher, or the slow working of the message of 
grace among human hearts, the great mass of 
which, in every age, reject and despise it. 

Zechariah says, " I saw by night, and behold a 
man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among 
the myrtle trees that were in the bottom ; and 
behind him were red horses, speckled, and white. 
Then said I, O my lord, what are these ? And 
the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will 
show thee what these be. And the man that stood 
among the myrtle trees answered and said, These 
are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and 
fro through the earth." (Zech. 1 : 8-11.) Were 
these the ministers of grace and evangelic over 
ture ? Were they not rather the powers of God e 
providence and government of the world ? Hear 
further : " And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes., 
and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots 
out from between two mountains ; and the moun 
tains were mountains of brass. In the first char 
iot were red horses ; and in the second chariot 
black horses; and in the third chariot white 
horses; and in the fourth chariot grizzled and 
bay horses. Then I answered and said unto the 
angel that talked with me, What are thee, my 


lord ? And the angel answered and said unto me, 
These are the fonr Spirits of the heavens, which 
go forth from standing before the Lord of all the 
earth." (Zech. 6:8.) And when Elisha prayed 
that his servant s eyes might be opened to behold 
the mighty powers of God, by which he protects 
hii people, and inflicts judgment upon their ene 
mies, what did he see ? Let the sacred word itself 
tell us : " And the Lord opened the eyes of the 
young man ; and he saw : and, behold, the moun 
tain was full of horses and chariots of fire round 
about Elisha," and the hosts of Syria were smit 
ten, and hurled back whence they came. (2 Kings 
6 : 15-18.) 

Is it difficult then to divine, what horses signify 
in connection with the Divine government and 
administrations ? Is not the whole idea that of 
swift and irresistible power ? What then are we 
to see in these horsemen, but earthly images of 
the swiffc, invisible, resistless power of God, going 
forth upon the proud, guilty, and unbelieving 
world ? So far as the preaching of the Gospel is 
a potent war-power, and an agent of judicial visi 
tation upon the wicked, so far it is included in 
this symbol of the white horse and his crowned 
and conquering rider, but no further. Roman 
Emperors are here quite out of the question. 

There is something special, which I have not 
seen satisfactorily explained, touching the nature 
of the work accomplished by this first horseman. 
It is not war and bloodihed betweec man and 
man ; for that is the work of the rider of the red 



horse. It is not famine and scarcity ; foi that ia 
the work of the rider on the black horse. Neither 
is it pestilence and mortality ; for that ia the work 
of the rider on the pale or livid horse. What 
then is the character of the demonstration by 
which this crowned rider of the white horse 
pushes forward the conquest for the heavenly 
dominion ? That it involves a demonstration of 
judgment, is an idea which we dare by no means 
let go. This is rooted in the whole spirit of the 
scene, and required by the tenor of the transac 
tions along with which this horseman appears. 
What then was the specific form of judgment unto 
victory which is here adumbrated ? It is a most 
interesting and important inquiry, and one which 
dare not be passed over without some adequate 

Several peculiarities in the description may 
help us toward the true meaning. Of the four 
horsemen, only this one has " a crown." His con 
quests, therefore, are specifically conquests of the 
crown achievements augmentative of heavenly 
dominion. The color of the horse is " white"- 
the color of righteousness, triumph, peace. The 
picture must then somehow link itself with some 
thing righteous and good, though associated with 
a j udi cial proceeding. The rider of this horse has 
" a bow." This is an instrument of war; but as 
no literal slaughter connects with this horseman, 
it cannot refer to the destruction of life, but to a 
moral effect. Similar imagery is used to denote 
conquest resulting in salvation. Habakkuk says, 

LECTURE XI. CHAP. :!,. 315 

" Thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy char 
iots of Balvation. Thy bow was made quite naked, 
even thy word." (Chap. 3 : 8, 9.) The disclosure 
and demonstration of the truth by judicial visita 
tions of power, and its triumphant subj ugation of 
those who would not yield to it until thus judi 
cially " made quite naked," would be a legitimate 
and fitting conception to be associated with this 
part of the picture. The language employed con 
cerning the career of this horseman, is also sug 
gestive. He goes forth " conquering, and to con 
quer." There is an idea of continuity in the 
expression. It describes an ongoing of the work. 
It is not a past, or mere present success, but a 
continuous one, resulting, along with what else 
comes upon the scene, in complete and sovereign 

Is there, then, anything in the declarations of 
Holy Scripture, or justly inferable from them, 
touching the period of the judgment, which con 
forms at all to these intimations ? There is ; and 
it is strange that futurist interpreters have not 
been more impressed with it. " Wlien Thy judg 
ments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will 
learn righteousness." (Is. 26 : 9.) " God shall shoot 
at them [that encourage themselves in an evil 
speech] with an arrow ; suddenly shall they be 
wounded. And men shall fear, and shall declare 
the work of God ; for they shall wisely consider 
of his doing." (Ps. 64 : 7-9.) " Thy people shaU 
be witting" themselves presenting themselves as 
living sacrifices, "m the day of thy power" (Pa. 


110 : 3.) These are all Messianic prophecies, 
They can be clearly identified as referring to the 
period of judgment. And they each affirm a 
mighty moral subjugation to the Lord, as the re 
sult of judicial administrations. Daniel also af 
firms of " the time of the end," that " many shall 
be purified, and made white, and tried ; but the 
wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked 
shall understand." (Dan. 12 : 8-10.) And after 
the unwatchful and evil servant shall have been 
surprised by the presence of his lord whom he 
thought still far away, and after he has been judi 
cially cut off from partaking of the high privileges 
and rewards of the " faithful and wise servant," 
THEN the kingdom of hea-ven shall assume the char 
acter of ten virgins going forth with uniform zeal 
and activity to meet the Bridegroom. (Matt. 24 : 42 
-25 : 1.) To locate the state of things represented 
in this parable, except where the Saviour himself 
puts it, namely, after the manifest and decisive 
judgment of the Church has commenced, is to 
miss more than half its significance. And that 
it shows a state of conviction, zeal, and general 
earnestness and anxiety touching the movements 
of the returning Christ, altogether different and 
more uniform than was ever witnessed before, no 
attentive observer can fail to note. It therefore 
proves to us, that the opening scenes of the 
judgment include revolutions in the religious 
views and feelings of men, subduing them into 
submission to the word and sovereignty of God 
in tmexampled generality and power. To the 

LECTURE XI CHAP. :!,*. 317 

same effect is the prophecy of Joel, where he con 
nects the great outpouring of the Spirit of God, 
with the incoming of " the great and terrible day 
of the Lord." (Joel 2 : 28-32.) Paul also refers 
to the period of the future forthcoming of the 
Deliverer, as a period of the turning away of un 
righteousness, and of favorable change in the con 
victions and moral condition of multitudes, o 
marked and vast as to be like " life from the dead." 
(Bom. 11 : 15-26.)* 

* " Prophecie* foretell that even during aa era of great judg 
ments in one of th very crises of the world 7 ?, tribulations 
the evangelization and salvation of mankind, so far from being 
arrested, shall proceed and triumph. For when thy judgments 
are- in the earth, saith the prophet Isaiah, then the inhabi 
tants of the world will learn righteousness ; thy heaviest in 
flictions will aubsarve thy purposes of mercy in the salvation of 
mankind." The Great Commission, \>y J. Harris, D.D., p. 131. 

And whence indeed are we to derive that " multitude which 
no man could number," described in chapter 7 : 9-17, if not in 
part at least from among the living population of the earth 
after the crowned elders and the living ones have bcsen taken ? 
They are specifically described as persons who "come out of 
the great tribulation." And as they are said to have " washed 
their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb," 
remedied the deficiency which kept them out of the first 
translation, it ia legitimate and reasonable to refer this won 
derful cleansing to a new impulse which the incoming of that 
tribulation imparted to the minds and hearts of people who had 
been so unsanctifiod in their surrounding* before. Bickersteth 
has properly said, " The return of our Lord Jesus Christ will 
be accompanied by unprecedented effusions of the Divine Spi 
rit, and this with such enlarged knowledge, that judgment 
shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness in the fruitful 
leld." The wicked will persevere in their parverpenpss, but 



*We are therefore authorized to expect, that 
when the great transactions of the coming judg 
ment begin, and the Lord lays bare the literal 
truthfulness of his word by the marvellous de 
monstrations then to be made, there will be a 
conquering of the hearts of men to the sovereignty 
of Heaven, such as has never been. 

Nay, if there be any truth in the doctrine of 
successive translations of the saints, a doctrine 
so necessary to a consistent and satisfactory con 
struction of a great variety of passages, it is 
plainly to be foreseen, that great and mighty 
changes for the better must ensue, wherever there 
is any moral susceptibility left. The simultaneous 
disappearance from the churches of so many 
watching and praying ones, the demonstration 
thus given of the reality of all these things, and 
the certain excision of all the rest from the first 
honors of the kingdom, must needs have an effect 
upon those that are " left," which none but the 
hopelessly hardened can fail to feel in their deep 
est souls. Their eyes will open then, as they 
never were opened before. Quite naked to them 
then, will have become God s bow, even his Word. 
Gone then, will be all their spiritualizing and 
rationalizing with which they so long and sadly 
deluded themselves. At one stroke the whole 
Bible will have become to them a new book, and 

understanding shall come to multitudes who would not be in 
structed till enlightened by the Spirit of judgment, which for 
ever cuts them off from the first dignities of the kingdom- 

LSOTTTR8 XI. CHA?. 8:1,2. 19 

prophecy an unmistakable reality. And to all 
shall be added the certainty, not only that they 
have forever missed the high honors which once 
were within their reach, but that a few brief years 
of terror and tribulation, furnish their last hope 
and chance of being saved at all. How then can 
it be otherwise, but that there will be a breaking 
down of hearts in penitence, and a stirring up of 
souls to religious activity, and an earnestness of 
seeking unto the Lord ere his eternal judgments 
go over them, such as has never been in all the 
periods of time ! 

And this is the sort of conquest and triumph 
which is set forth by the white horse, and his 
crowned rider, going forth conquering, and to 
conquer. It is the bloodless conquest of men to 
God, by the potencies of a present judgment. It 
is the first great effective symptom that the earth 
and its inhabitants are about to become our God s 
and his Christ s. It is a conquest of Judgment. 
It is the result of the laying bare of God s word 
and power by a judicial wound, cutting off from 
the exalted blessedness to which the Gospel now 
calls. It is the fruit of a proceeding, not in the 
line of humble entreaty, but in the line of penal 
infliction, driving home with resistless demonstra 
tion the awakening truth, that the first honors 
are clean gone, and that stern necessity has come 
for speedy and thorough work ere the last chariot 
of salvation shall have gone by forever. It is the 
knock of Christ at the door of the Church of the 
inkwvrarm Laodiceans the sharp knock of t.erri- 


lying judgment in which he makes his last pro- 
posal to them, even of so much as to share of hii 

Let us then learn the truth, and profit by it 
while we may, that this easy halfway Christian 
ity will not avail. God requires something deci 
sive, earnest, and hearty; a religion which truly 
renounces the devil and all his works, the vanities 
of the world, and the sinful desires of the flesh ; 
a devotion which puts upon us a difference from 
the world, and marks us in heart and life as citi 
zens of a heavenly country, only sojourning here ; 
A sanctification of our earthly investments, as well 
as an inward looking to Christ to save us. After 
such a religion let us seek, and such a faith let UB 
endeavor to exemplify ; denying ungodliness and 
worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, anil 
godly in this present world, looking for that bless 
ed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great 
God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself 
for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, 
aid purify unto himself a peculiar pp la, zealous 
of good work*. 



Rar. 6 : 3-8. (Revised Ttxt. ) And when he opened the second 
seal, I heard the second liring one saying, Go ! And there went forth 
another, a red horse ; and to him that eat on him to him was given 
to take aw&r peace out of tho earth, and that [men] shall alay one 
another : and there was given to him a great sword. 

And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living one 
saying, Go ! And I saw and behold a black horse, and he that sat on 
him having a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard as if a voice 
in the midst of the four liring ones, saying, A measure [chnix] of 
wheat for a penny [denarius], and three measure* [ohoeuixes] of bar 
ley for a penny [denarius] ; and the oil and the wine injare thou not. 

And when he opened the fourth seal, I heard [the] voice of the 
fourth living one saying, Go ! And I saw, and behold a pale-green 
horse, and he that sat on him [was] named Death, and Hados waa fol. 
I owing with him, and there was given to them power over the fourth part 
of the earth, to kill with sword, and with famine, and with pestilence, 
and by the wild beasts of the earth. 

IT must be borne in mind, In dealing with 
these seal-openings, that we are dealing with 
the scenes of the judgment. They relate to " the 
day of the Lord." Anticipatory fulfilments have 
occurred, but the proper breaking of these seals, 
VOL. i. 21 (321 ) 



and whatever is connected with their opening, be 
longs to the future, and to that momentous pe 
riod, now at hand, which is to close up the entire 
order of things now existing. The whole scene 
presents the action of the judgment-throne in 
heaven, toward those then living upon the earth. 
There is an important distinction, noted in the 
Scriptures, and in all the creeds, between the 
judgment of "the quick" and the judgment of 
" the dead." The common idea is, that all men, 
those that have died, and those who are found 
living at the time, shall be judged alike, and in 
one and the same great congregation. It is con 
ceived that the dead will all be simultaneously 
resurrected, and all the living simultaneously 
changed, and that only then the judgment will 
sit for the adjudication of the eternal destiny of 
each. Painters and poets have outdone them 
selves in their efforts to portray the overwhelm 
ing majesty and terror of so grand and universa 
an assize. But it is not according to the plain 
letter of the Scriptures, or of the creed of the 
Church. If the day of judgment is ever to come, 
it must find people living upon the earth, who 
are described as "the quick." They must, there 
fore, either be judged in the flesh, while still 
living in their natural life, or they must meet 
with some miraculous transformation equivalent 
to the resurrection, by which they lose the dis 
tinctive character of " quick. 7 Such a change 
before the judgment, lias also been accepted and 
affirmed concerning all who shall be living when 

LECTUKE XII. CHAP. 6 : -s. 333 

the day of judgment comes. Thus, Bellarmin 
teaches, that the breaking in of that day will instan 
taneously end the natural life of all the living ; 
that they will all be suddenly struck dead, and by 
the same stroke transformed into precisely the 
same state in which the resurrected shall be ; and 
that then all distinction between " quick and dead " 
will have entirely and forever disappeared. And, 
if we take the doctrine of the simultaneous judg 
ment of all men, we are necessitated to accept 
some such explanation. But then what becomes 
of the judgment of " the quick" as distinguished 
from the judgment of " the dead f " There is, in 
that case, no such judgment. All natural life ia. 
the flesh being ended and overpast before any 
judicial awards are made, the judgment becomes 
only a judgment of the dead, or rather of immor 
tals; for there are no subjects of it except those 
who have ceased from the natural life, and passed 
into the post-resurrection state. The distinction 
made by the Scriptures and the creeds, between 
the judgment of "the quick" and the judgment 
of " the dead," is thus turned into a distinction 
without a difference a mere matter of words, 
signifying nothing in particular. But the phrase 
ology of Jesus and his inspired apostles, so uni 
formly employed wherever the subject is touched, 
is not thus to be slurred over, and stripped of its 
proper and natural signification. If words have . 
any meaning, "quick" does not mean "dead," 
and " dead " does not mean " quick ; " and the 
judgment of the one cannot, therefore, be the 

324 Tfll APOOALYPSl. 

judgment of the other. Two distinct classes are 
unmistakably intended, not only as to that state 
in which the day of judgment finds them, but also 
as to that state in which the day of judgment deals 
with them. If the natural life of " the quick " 
ends before they are judged, then theirs is not a 
judgment of the quick any more than of the dead, 
and one part of the sacred description utterly falls 
away. We must, therefore, allow a judgment 
which respects men still living their natural life 
in the flesh, the awards of which they receive, 
and have visited upon them in their distinctive 
character as " quick." 

And even as respects the judgment of "the 
dead," there lurks in the popular idea a mis 
chievous and confusing error. People take the 
resurrection as a mere preliminary of the judg 
ment, and view the judgment itself as something 
distinct from the resurrection, and corning after 
it. The language of the last trump they con 
ceive to be: "Awake, ye dead, and come to judg 
ment." They consider that the dead are to be 
awakened for the purpose of being judged. It is 
also true, that not all the awards of the judgment 
are made or go into effect till after the resurrec 
tion ; but the resurrection is itself a part of the 
judgment. The resurrection of the wicked is 
certainly something different from the resurrec 
tion of the saints. It is different both in char 
acter and in time. The one is a resurrection "in 
glory," and the other is a resurrection of " shaine 
and everlasting contempt." The one is " adop- 

LECTURE XII. OfiAP. :*-. 826 

tion, the redemption of the body," and the other 
is "the resurrection of condemnation. The one 
is a " change of our vile body, that it may be 
fashioned like unto Christ s glorious body," and 
the other is a mere reversal of the state of death, 
with all the corrupt fruits of the sowing to the 
flesh still clinging to him who is the subject of it. 
(Gal. 6 : 7, 8.) The one is the peculiar privilege 
of the elect, of those who are Christ s, who rise 
at Christ s coming, and live and reign with him 
the thousand years; the other is subsequent 
elra afterwards, and embraces " the rest of the 
dead " who live not again until the thousand years 
are finished. (1 Cor. 15 : 23, 24 ; Rev. 20 : 4, 5.) 
These distinctions are very plainly drawn, and em 
brace the very highest things of our faith. Nothing 
that comes after the realization of them can add 
anything not already substantially included. The 
estate and destiny on both sides is thus effectu 
ally and irreversibly settled in advance. We ac 
cordingly would have the anomaly of the chief 
work and result of the judgment accomplished 
and concluded, before the judgment itself sits! 
The truth is, that the resurrection, and the changes 
which pass " in the twinkling of an eye " upon 
the living, are themselves the fruits and embodi 
ments of antecedent judgment. They are the 
consequences of adjudications then already made. 
Strictly speaking, men are neither raised nor 
translated, in order to come to judgment. Resur 
rections and translations are products of judgment 
previously passed, upon the dead as dead, and 


upon the quick as quick. " The dead in Christ 
shall rise first," because they are already adjudged 
to be in Christ ; and the living saints are caught 
up together with them to the clouds, because they 
are already adjudged to be saints, and worthy to 
attain that world. And the rest of the dead live 
not again until the thousand years are finished, 
and the rest of "the quick" are "left," by virtue 
of judicial decisions already had, and of which 
these things are the results. Whatever, in the 
line of increased blessedness or enhanced dam 
nation, may come after, is only the further car 
rying into effect of what was already prede- 
cided, before there could be either resurrection 
or translation. And what so irreversibly fixes 
the estates of the persons concerned, must neces 
sarily, in the very nature of things, be their judg 
ment. The judgment is not a sham formality, or 
a solemn farce; it is something real; and the sub 
stance of it is the award to every man according 
to his works. And when we see these awards in 
potent effect in the very life which the dead live 
again, it is absurd to be thinking of the judgment 
as only a grand assize to which resurrection and 
cessation of natural life are only preliminary. 
And if the true judgment thus precedes, or is al 
ready embodied in, the resurrection and transla 
tion, it must necessarily take hold of the dead as 
dead, and the living as living. The language 
which the Scriptures and the creeds so carefully 
preserve, is thus found to possess a literal ac 
curacy and depth too generally overlooked. 

LBOTUBB XII. CHAP. 6:i-, 27 

profess to believe that Christ "shall come to 
judge the quick and the dead." He does not 
come first to raise " the dead," and then to judge 
r hem, but he judges them as dead, that they may 
rise in their appointed lot, and share the resur 
rection of the just. He does not first come to 
change " the quick" in order to judge them; but 
to judge and discriminate between them while yet 
living, in order that those accounted worthy may 
be " changed," and caught up together with the 
resurrected ones, and that those adjudged un 
worthy of so high a portion may be cut off from 
it, and made to suffer still other inflictions in this 
world. And it is to these judicial dealings with 
people "left," and living in the flesh, that the 
action under these horses refers. 

I have shown that horses, in prophetic vision, 
are images of God s swift, invisible, resistless 
power for the defence of his people, especially in 
its going forth upon the proud, guilty, and unbe 
lieving world. It was so in the case of those 
seen by Elisha s servant, and in the case of those 
mentioned by Zechariah. 

In these four different horses and horsemen, 
we are to see four different forms of the com 
ing forth of the judicial power of God upon the 
inhabitants of the earth, looking to the break 
ing up of the dominion of wickedness, the pun 
ishment and casting out of transgression, and the 
consummation of that long-pending revolution 
whose accomplishment is at once the fulfilment 
of all prophecv and all prayer. 


We are not to suppose, however, that the ac- 
n of one ceases entirely, before the other comes 
ito play. They are consecutive in their incom 
ing, in the main stress of them, and in some of 
r more marked circumstances, but they are 
ill, in a measure, contemporaneous. The action 
f the first horseman certainly is continuous; for 
he goes forth in conquest unto conquest, which 
terminates only in the complete victory in which 
the opening of the seals ends. His career, there 
fore, runs on through that of his three successors, 
and through all the remaining seals. No such 
tense continuity is expressed with reference to 
the action of the other horsemen; and the na 
ture of their work is such as not likely to extend 
itself so far. But there is an inner and natu 
ral relationship between the things adumbrated 
which render* it quite evident that their several 
careers overlap each other, and that the doinga 
of the one run side by side with the doings of the 

We have seen that the white horse, and his 
crowned rider, and bloodless conquests, indicate 
mighty moral victories for the heavenly King 
dom, wrought by the spirit of judgment. When 
God g judgments are in the earth, then will the 
inhabitants thereof learn righteousness. People 
shall be made willing in the day of His power. 

But John beheld a second horse, called into ac 
tion in like manner as the first," a red horse; 
and to him that sat on him, was given to take 
away peace out of th earth, and that [men] shall 


g.ay one another : arid there was given to him a 
great sword." 

The color of this horse is redfiery Hit hw of 
blood. This itself is indicative of vengeance and 
slaughter. The great dragon is " red," and he is 
" a mnrderer from the beginning." The mighty 
Hero of Salvation, travailing in the greatness of 
his strength, and crushing his enemies beneath 
his feet, is " red " in his apparel, emblematic of 
his work of violent destruction. JSor can we be 
mistaken in regarding this horse and his rider as 
significant of bloody times. His work is specifi 
cally described to be the taking of peace out of 
the earth. A great and terrible weapon is also 
put into his hand ; not the ordinary sword of war 
(pofifcU*), but (pax?* w^ 1 ?) a great sword of one 
having the power of life and death. And the re 
sult of his presence is war, much taking of life 
by public executions, and mutual killing among 

The picture is particularly terrific. It presents 
not only disturbance of the relation of nations, 
the rising of nation against nation, and king 
dom against kingdom; but internecine collisions, 
civil wars, the murderous hate of one portion of 
citizens exercised against another portion, and 
bloody commotions all over the face of society, 
having no issue but wretchedness and depopula 
tion. It is the rampage of human passion raging 
to all forms of bloodshed, and the authorities of 
state in vain drawing the sword to put it down. 
A small specimen of this state of things wa* 


enacted in the days of Asa, when Israel had been 
" a long season without the true God, and without 
a teaching priest, and without law ; " in which 
times " there was no peace to him that went out, 
nor to him that came in, but great vexations were 
upon all the inhabitants of the countries. And 
nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city ; 
for God did vex them with all adversity." (2 
Chron. 15 : 3, 5.) 

Another small specimen of the same was real 
ized in those times of which Josephus writes, 
when " the disorders in all Syria were terrible, 
and every city was divided into two armies, en 
camped one against another, and the preservation 
of the one party was the destruction of the other : 
so the daytime was spent in the shedding of 
blood, and the night in fear." And again, when, 
as he writes, " There were besides disorders and 
civil wars in every city : and all those that were 
quiet from the Romans turned their hands one 
against another. There was also a bitter contest 
between those that were fond of war, and those 
that were desirous of peace. At first, this quar 
relsome temper caught hold of private families, 
who could not agree among themselves: after 
which, those people that were the dearest to one 
another, broke through all restraints with regard 
to each other, and every one associated with those 
of his own opinion, and begun already to stand 
in opposition to one another, so that seditions 
arose everywhere, while those that were for inno 
vations, and were desirous of war, by their youth 


and boldness, were too hard for the aged and the 
prudent ; and in the first place, all the people of 
every place betook themselves to rapine: after 
which they got together in bodies, in order to rob 
the people of the country, insomuch that for bar 
barity and iniquity, those of the same nation did 
no way differ from the Romans ; nay, it seemed 
a much lighter thing to be ruined by the Romans 
than by themselves." 

Fancy a world which has no peace in it no 
concord but that of lawless and se]fish passion 
no regard for life when it stands in the way of 
covetousness or ambition no amity between its 
nationalities, or internal harmony and toleration 
between citizens of the same city or statebut 
every man s sword is against his fellow, and 
every one s hand rises up against the hand of his 
neighbor, and international slaughter, civil butch 
ery, and private revenge and murder are the 
order of the day, and you have what the earth 
will be under the judgment power of this red 
horse and his rider. Of old, already, Jehovah 
threatened to bring a sword to avenge the quar 
rel of the covenant; and to "call for a sword 
upon all the inhabitants of the earth." (Jer. 25: 
29.) And in this horseman, with his great sword 
taking peace from the earth, and desolating the 
world with violence and bloodshed, we have the 
final fulfilment of that threat. Nor need any one 
be at a loss to see how everything is already tend 
ing to just sush a condition of society and the 


But the breaking of the third seal starts an 
other horse " a black horse " at whose appear 
ance the seer is moved to exclamation : " And I 
saw, and, behold, a black horse, and he that sat on him 
having a pair of balances in his hand." 

More feeling is expressed at the appearance of 
this power, because a more general and unman 
ageable plague is the subject of contemplation. 
Long ago did Jeremiah say : " They that be slain 
with the sword are better than they that be slain 
with hunger; for these pine away, stricken through 
for want of the fruits of the field." (Lam. 4 : 9.) 
Black is the color of dearth and famine. When 
Jeremiah contemplated Judah and his gates 
" black unto the ground," it was a picture " con 
cerning the dearth." (Jer. 14 : 1, 2.) The same 
prophet says : " Our skin was black like an oven, 
because of the terrible famine." (Lam. 5 : 10.) It 
is the hue of mourning; and the rest of the de 
scription identifies it as mourning by reason of 

The rider of this black horse carries a pair of 
balances in his hand. There is close and careful 
weighing : and the things weighed are the com 
mon articles of food. John also " heard as if a 
voice in the midst of the four Living ones, say 
ing : A choenix of wheat for a denarius, and three 
choenixes of barley for a denarius." When things 
are plentiful, exact weight or measure is not re 
garded. The Spirit, as given to Christ, was given 
without measure. So, also, in Joseph s gathering 
of corn, and in David q gathering of copper for 


the temple. And when corn is abundant, it is 
sold by gross measure, and no attention ia paid 
to a few hundred grains, one way or the other. 
But when it becomes high in price and scarce, 
then it ia strictly weighed, and every ounce is 
taken into account. And, in numerous places in 
Scripture, the weighing out of the bread to be 
eaten, is given as one of the marks of great scarci 
ty and want. (Lev. 26 : 20 ; Ez. 4 : 10, 16.) 

But the picture is further shown to be one of 
scarcity, by the prices of provisions which John 
heard declared. People do not generally suppose 
that God has much to do with price-lists. They 
go up and down, and millions higgle over them 
every day, but no one thinks of anything Divine 
connected with them. But whether men realize 
it or not, price-lists are made in heaven. John 
hears the rates of corn and bread announced 
by the same heavenly powers by which these 
mystic horses are called into action. Whatever 
the weather, the crops, the quantities of money 
in the country, the extent of speculation in the 
market, or other subordinate causes may have to 
do with it, the prime and all-controlling cause is 
the decree of the throne. It is God from whom 
we have our daily bread, and it is by Hia will 
that it is plentiful and cheap, or scarce and costly. 
The prices here given, are judgment prices, 
indicative of extreme scarcity and distress. A 
ehoenix is about a pint and a half of our measure, 
and is the ordinary allowance of wheat to a man 
for one day s scanty subsistence. A dewrius was 


the ordinary wages for a fall day s labor. And 
when a chcenix of wheat costs a denarius, it is as 
much as a man can do to earn the bread Le him 
self consumes, leaving nothing for his family or 
for his other wants. 

But even at these ruinous rates, there is not 
wheat enough. People have to betake themselves 
to barley the food of horses and beasts of bur 
den. Yet the barley is as difficult of procure 
ment as the wheat. In ordinary times, a dena 
rius would buy twenty-four choenixes of barley; 
but here a denarius will buy but three the scanty 
allowance for a day s subsistence for a slave. The 
arrival of things at such a pass, accordingly ar 
gues a severity of hard times, distress, and want, 
almost beyond the power of imagination to de 
pict. Yet, it is but the natural result of the state 
of things under the red horse. The two are closely 
connected as cause and effect. Take away peace 
from the earth, and inaugurate universal wars, 
civil strifes, and bloody feuds, and terrible scarci 
ty of the means of subsistence must follow. 

One mitigation attends this fearful judgment. 
The command to the invisible messenger is, " The 
oil and the wine injure thou not." These would 
naturally be less affected by the diversion of the 
population from their proper business to their 
bloody work, than those crops which depend more 
upon human efforts. Olive trees and v nes, when 
once established, will grow and produce year 
after year without much attention ; but not wheat 
and barley. Yet these also depend upon God, 

LECTURE XII CHAP. 6 : i-4. 035 

and grow and produce only by his command. 
And it is by his special order that their fruitful- 
ness is preserved in the- midst of this reigning 
scarcity of other things. And it is a matter of 
grace, that the minister of vengeance is so far re 

But the very reservation also reflects the in 
tensity of the famine as respects the ordinary 
means of subsistence. It carries with it the inti 
mation that, but for the preservation of the oil 
and wine, it would be impossible for men to find 
sufficient food on which to keep themselves alive. 
Nay, though a thing of mercy as regards men s 
lives, it also bears with it a moral aggravation of 
the affliction. It is everywhere set forth as one 
of the characteristics of the last times, that people 
shall be given to luxurious habits, and inordinate 
appetency for superfluities of diet. " Eating and 
drinking," and every extreme of carnal indul 
gence, is then to mark their modes of life. The 
staple food of mankind is despised, and every ex 
pensive luxury is impatiently pursued. Hence, 
God shuts them in to their luxuries, partly in 
mitigation of judgment, but at the same time 
also in aggravation of it Just as Israel, lusting 
after flesh, and no longer satisfied with the bread 
Jehovah provided, waa compelled to live on flesh 
until it became almost impossible for the people 
to swallow it (Numbers 11:19, 20); so God in 
judgment takes away what men despise, and 
forces them to live on luxuries made loathsome 
because there is nothing else, that they may learn 


the folly of their wisdom, and taste tl e fearful- 
ness of their guilty hallucination. 

But while all this is being experienced, a fourth 
seal is broken, and out conies another hcrse, 
and horseman, still more terrible. This is the 
last, and the climax of this particular series of 
terrific images. The first horse is pure white, 
mighty, but bloodless in his career ; the second is 
fiery red, blood-colored, and revengeful; the third 
is black, mournful, gloom-shaded; and when we 
would think everything dreadful in color ex-, 
hausted, another breaks upon the view, more 
terrible than any that have gone before. A 
pale, death-green, and cadaverous horse appears. 
XlwfHx;, translated pale, denotes a leprous color. 
(Lev. 13:49; 14:37.) It properly meana green, 
and is several times so translated in the Apoca 
lypse and elsewhere. (Eev. 8:7; 9:4; Mark 6: 
39.) There are instances of its use in the classics 
to denote the wan and deathly expression of the 
face when overwhelmed with fright or faintness. 
When applied as here, it can only mean a greenish 
ghastliness, something like the color of a corpse 
or putrefying fiesh. It describes this last horse 
as unspeakably more horrible than either of the 

But his rider and attendants intensify the aw- 
fulness of the picture. That rider is Death, and 
Hades follows with hirn. There is also given to 
them power over the fourth part of the earth, to 
kill with sword, and with famine, and with pesti 
lence, and by means of the wild beasts of the 

LECTURE XII. CHAP. 6 : t-t. 337 

earth. The preceding pictures continue, and re 
peat themselves in this, but with increased inten 
sity and still other additions. The rider of the 
red horse is War, destroying peace and exciting 
all manner of strife and bloodshed. The rider of 
the black horse is Famine, taking away the staff 
of bread and oppressing the world with terrible 
scarcity. And the rider of this ghastly-colored 
horse carries on the work of his predecessors to 
still more horrible excesses, and matures their 
fruits in death-plague and depredations of the 
animal tribes. The several forms of affliction 
advance from the lesser to the greater, and one 
naturally grows out of the other. General war 
and bloody strife becomes the occasion of famine ; 
and famine brings pestilence ; and their combined 
depopulation of the earth encourages the increase 
and ferocious instincts of wild beasts, and the 
multiplication of noxious creatures. God does 
not work miracles where none are needed; and 
evils are all so closely related, that it is only neces 
sary to start one, to bring down the whole train. 
A state of general war and bloody civil strife is 
terrible enough, but when to it is added scarci 
ty, black hunger, desolating pestilence, and the 
ravages of depredacious animals when, as in 
this instance, Death takes the reins, and the liv 
ing world is overrun by the legions of the dead 
then comes " the great and terrible day of the 

Death is not a being, but the fruit of a power, 
which operates through many different agenciei. 
VOL. i. 22 


It is here personified and represented under the 
picture of some mighty Csesar, mounted, and 
riding forth in fearful triumph. 

Hades is not a being ; it is the grave the dark 
region of the dead the realm which remorse 
lessly swallows up all the living. It is here per 
sonified under the image of some great voracious 
monster, stalking after the rider on the ghastly 
horse, indicating that whither this horseman 
comes, Hades comes, and the world of the dead 
takes the place of the world of the living. 

The means by which these awful desolations 
are wrought, are God s "four sore judgments, 
the sword, and the famine, and the noisome 
beast, and the pestilence to cut off man and 
beast." (Ezek. 14:21.) These are the most 
dreadful plagues with which Q-od usually chas 
tises men. They are not reserved exclusively for 
the last periods of time. We can trace them 
under Koman emperors, but also before there 
were Roman emperors, and since Roman emper 
ors have ceased to be. But the height and fulness 
of them falls within the period to which these 
seals relate. 

The true sample, as it was in some sort the be 
ginning of the tribulation set forth under these 
horses, was given in what befell the Jews in the 
last period of their state. War was there in all 
its tearfulness. Commotion and strife distracted 
and distressed the whole land. Wholesale butch 
ery was the order of the day. Whole cities were 
turned into mere graves, full of dead. Millions 

LECTURE XII. OHAP. : 3-8. 339 

of men, women, children, fell by the sword, fam 
ine, exposure, fright, and other forms of death. 
Shut in at last to their holy city by the tight cor 
don of Rome s legions, the soul sickens over the 
recitals of the sufferings, oppressions, cruelties, 
and living death which settled down upon the 
doomed people. Perishing by houses and fami 
lies every day, the dead became too numerous for 
the living to bury ; and the wretchedness was so 
great that men, and even mothers, forgot their 
sympathies. Affection died; all regard for the 
rights of one another died ; and the glorious city 
of David and Solomon was turned into a tomb 
under the prancings of the ghastly horse, whose 
rider is Death, whose attendant is Hell, and who 
is yet to dash through the world and trample it 
in like manner under his dreadful hoofs. 

"We are not to infer, however, that there is to 
be an utter extirpation and extinction of the race 
of mankind under these visitations. Only " the 
fourth part of the earth " is put under this fourth 
horseman s sway. There are also other seals to 
be broken, and other judgment scenes to be en 
acted, of which men in the flesh, nations and 
earthly confederations are largely the subjects. 
"We have thus far only the first acts in the terri 
ble drama. We have been gontemplating merely 
the beginning of sorrows, which multiply and 
grow in fearfulness till the last seal is broken, 
the last trumpet sounded, and the last bowl of 
wrath emptied. Other and worse impieties are 
to come, and still more awful displays of Almighty 


vengeance upon the enactors of them. The great 
est masterpiece of hell yet awaits full develop 
ment, and the greatest thunders of God s judg 
ment remain for its wreck, and the final ruin of 
its rmsanctified abettors. 

I know not, my friends, what degree of credit 
or thought you may give to these things; but, 
as Paul told the assembly on Mars Hill, so I tell 
you, that " God hath appointed a day, in the 
which he will judge the world [the living world 
of mankind ] in righteousness, by that man whom 
he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assur 
ance unto all men, in that he hath raised him 
from the dead. 7 (Acts 17 : 31.) You may shrink 
back and exclaim as Balaam did: "Ala^ who 
shall live when God doeth this!" Like Balaam 
you may also turn away from it to pursue the 
wages of unrighteousness. But, I beseech you 
to beware, lest you procure for yourselves a Ba 
laam s end. The picture may be dark, and aw 
ful beyond what you are willing to contemplate ; 
but it must be filled out in the real world some 
day, as certainly as God s word is true. 

Neither has it been so graphically sketched 
without a purpose. The Almighty intends that 
we should look at it, that we should be premon- 
ished by the contemplation of it, and that it 
should have effect upon our hearts and lives. He 
would have us see and know to what this vain, 
proud, and guilty world is coming, that we may 
separate ourselves from it, and secure a better 
portion. And with all the universal agocy D 

LJSCTURB XII. CHAP. 6:3-8. 34} 

which its presumptuous dominion shall expire, 
there is this to be added by way of comfort, that 
there is no necessity that any of us should ever 
feel it. A way of escape exists. As there was 
an ark for Noah when the world was drowned, 
and a Pella for the saints when Jerusalem sunk 
under God s resentment for the murder of His 
Son, so there is a place of safety provided for us, 
where we may view these horsemen, as unharmed 
by their fearful doings, as was the apostolic seer 
himself. It was of this the Psalmist sung, when 
he said : " In the time of trouble he shall hide 
me in his pavilion : in the secret of his tabernacle 
shall he hide me." (Ps. 27 : 5.) 

Nor is the grave this hiding-place. Should 
these scenes begin to-night, the refuge is as avail 
able and as availing as if they should tarry yet a 
thousand years. God s pavilion is above the 
clouds, not under the ground. Not hades, but 
heaven, is the true centre of the aspirations of 
the saints. And as Isaiah beheld these desolating 
judgments about to sweep the earth, he heard a 
voice of sweetness going before them, saying: 
"Come, my people, enter thou into thy cham 
bers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself 
as it were for a little moment, until the indigna 
tion be overpast." (Is. 26 : 20.) That voice comes 
from heaven. It is none other than the loving 
Saviour s voice. It is a voice addressed to his 
true people. It is a voice which calls them to 
where he is. Hence the same prophet adds : 
" They that wait for the Lord shall renew their 



strength; they shall monnt up with wingg M 
eagles." (Is. 40 : 31). Hence the apostle still 
more plainly declares: "We which are alive and 
remain shall be caught up ... in the clouds, to 
meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be 
with the Lord." (1 Thess. 4 : 17.) Hence also 
that admiring song of David: "Oh how great 
is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them 
that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them 
that trust in thee before the sons of men ! Thou 
shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from 
the pride of man : thou shalt keep them secretly 
in a pavilion from the strife of tongues." (Is. 31 : 
19, 20.) And the direction of the apostle is, 
that we " comfort one another with these words." 
(1 Thess. 4 : 18.) 

The only question is, as to how we stand in re 
lation to the Lamb who breaks these seals. Do 
we accept and rely on him as our hope and salva 
tion ? Are we trusting to his meritorious sacri 
fice as the satisfaction for our guilt, and to his 
victorious exaltation to the right hand of the 
Father, as compassing everything needful to make 
us forever safe? Have we truly taken him as 
our Lord, confessed ourselves to his Gospel, and 
given our hearts and our all to his service? Are 
we making it the great business of our lives to 
" watch and pray always," and to keep ourselves 
in fellowship with him, patiently waiting upon 
him as our all-sufficient portion? Oh, blessed, 
blessed, is that servant who, when his Lord com- 
eth, shall be found so doing ! He is safe. Hii 

L1CTURE XII. CHAP. l:ft-S. 343 

judgment is passed. No dregs of wrath remain 
for him to drink. Christ will not leave him to 
suffer with hypocrites and unbelievers. And 
while these storms of woe are desolating the 
earth, he shall be rejoicing in a heavenly crown. 
Yea, and I would be recreant to my commission 
as a minister of Christ, if I did not declare the 
Master s readiness this hour to receive and seal 
every one of you against all dangers of the great 
day of wrath. Indeed, these pictures of coming 
woe have been given to awaken us from our false 
security, to quicken us in the search for the refuge 
set before us, and to bring us to unreserved con 
secration to the Lord our Redeemer. Only fall 
in with his offers, and "salvation will God ap 
point for walls and for bulwarks." (Is. 26 : 1.) 
Cleave unto him, and to his unfailing promises, 
and " ye shall have a song, as in the night when 
a holy solemnity is kept ; and gladness of heart, 
as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the 
mountain of the Lord, to the mighty one of Is 
rael." (Is. 33 : 29.) Rest in Jesus, and do hia 
commandments, and the place which he has 
gone to prepare is yours ; and before his wrath 
breaks forth upon the guilty world, he will come 
again, and receive you to himself, that where he 
is, there you may be also. (John 14 : 1-3.) 

You have read in the Scriptures of the superior 
favors of " the wise," in relation to the day of 
judgment. The wise virgins went in with the 
Bridegroom when the door was shut against their 
foolish companions. Solomon wrote : " The wise 


shall inherit glory." But an essential part of 
that blessed wisdom is, to " observe these things " 
to understand this, to consider what the end 
shall be. " A prudent man foreseeth the evil, 
and hideth himself." To close our eyes and ears 
against these foreshowings of God, or to delay 
earnest and energetic effort in view of their speedy 
fulfilment, is not wisdom. There must be the 
wakeful, observant, far-seeing eagle eye, if there 
is to be a timely and triumphant eagle flight 
And if we would " escape all these things that 
shall come to pass," and find a place of safety in 
the presence of the Son of man, we must learn to 
realize that the day of these fearful visitations is 
approaching, and that we have no time to lose, 
and no opportunities to be neglected. " The voice 
of free grace cries escape to the mountain;" but 
it is a voice which we have occasion to heed with 
solemn care and prompt obedience. "For if 
the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and 
every transgression and disobedience received a 
just recompense of reward, how shall we escape 
if we neglect so great salvation, which, at the 
first, began to be spoken by the Lord, and was 
confirmed unto us by them that heard him ; God 
also bearing them witness, both with signs, and 
wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the 
Holy Ghost, according to his own will ? " (Heb. 



Rsv. 6 : 9-11. (Revised Text.) And when he opened the fifth seal 
I saw beneath the altar the souls of those that h&d ben slain on ac 
count of the word of God, and on account of the testimony which they 
held fast : and they cried with a great voice, saying : Until when, thou 
Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood 
from them that dwell on the earth ? And there was given to each o* 
them a white robe, and it was said to them that they should rest yet a 
little time, until their fellow-servants also, and their brethren, shall 
hare been completed, who are about to be slain as also they themselves 
[had been]. 

TT is hardly worth while to occupy attention 
-*- with the diverse and contradictory interpre 
tations that have been given of this seal. Though 
all are more or less intermingled with some truth, 
the principles upon which the Apocalypse is to be 
construed, and which have been followed in this 
exposition, lead us, with directness and certainty, 
to conclusions which bruih away, as only so much 
rubbish, the most that has been written on the 

( 346 ) 


Professor Stuart takes this fifth seal as a mere 
artistic prelude to certain very simple results. He 
refers to Nelson s address to his squadrons, on 
the eve of the engagement which yielded Eng 
land her greatest naval victory, as an illustration, 
in real life, of what he supposes John to be at 
tempting in poetic fancy, as a preparation for the 
victorious conclusion; only that the hosts here 
are imaginary, and their inspiration, by the cry 
of the slaughtered saints, merely a lively poetic 

But if the array is mere poetry, we would natu 
rally suppose that the vengeance and the victory 
are ideal also; and so the whole Apocalypse is 
turned into artistic fiction; which is about all it 
is in the hands of this writer. With him it is a 
book everywhere full of wondrously grand begin 
nings, exordiums, and proemial marshallings of 
poetic images; but when he reduces the results to 
literal and solid prose, what crowds John s twenty- 
two eventful chapters, might be more clearly stated 
in twenty-two well-written lines. The least to be 
said of such exposition is, the less of it the better. 

According to an older commentator, " the scope 
of this seal is not prophetically to point out new 
events, and to relate to a particular time." But 
this is exactly the opposite of the truth. If the 
text means anything, "new events" are just what 
it is intended prophetically to point out, and " a 
particular time " is precisely that to which it does 
relate. As certainly as the Apocalypse is the 
book of the consummation of God s providence 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11. 347 

with this present world, and as certainly as the 
action under these seven seals is the action of 
judgment upon faithless Christians, usurpers, and 
rebels, just so certainly does this fifth seal refer to 
& particular stage and phase in these judicial trans 
actions, and to a class of events which only then 
come to their full development. As the throne is 
a judgment throne, and the whole administration 
proceeding from it is an administration of judg 
ment, every seal that is broken must lay open a 
phase of judgment, in one direction or another. 
All the seals, thus far, have been judgment seals; 
and the two that follow are judgment seals; capa 
ble of being identified, as such, from the na-ture 
of the events attending them. The symmetry of 
the whole would therefore be interrupted, and an 
unaccountable break made in the distinctly con 
nected series, if this fifth in the list were to be 
taken in any other acceptation. The four horse 
men are judgment powers. The earthquake, and 
the terrific commotions in earth and sky, under 
the sixth seal, are directly linked with the pres 
ence of judgment. The seventh seal, with its 
seven trumpets and seven last plagues, is nothing 
but judgment from beginning to end. And what 
ever peculiarities may attend the breaking of the 
particular seal now before us, it can be nothing 
other than judgment also. 

The manifestations under the breaking of this 
seal differ, in some respects, from the four preced 
ing. There is here no expression from the Living 
ones. There are no horsemen or horses. And 


the burden of the description is exhibited in the 
results rather than in the processes. Still, every 
thing turns out as belonging to the same general 
category of trial and suffering. Under the first 
seal we have the picture of moral conquest, by 
means of the arrow of truth, sped by the power 
of sorrowful judgment. Under the second, we 
have war, disorder, strife, and bloodshed. Under 
the third, we have famine and distressing scarcity. 
Under the fourth, we have the combined fruit of 
all these, pestilence, death -plagud, and the living 
world largely overrun with the regions of the dead. 
And, under this fifth seal, we have added, bloody 
persecution of those who hold and testify to the 
truth. The entire population of the earth, at that 
period, being alike rejected from the company of 
those accounted worthy to escape these evil times, 
is alike made to feel the stripes of judgment. The 
good as well as the bad suffer the hour of trial. 
And though there shall be multitudes then brought 
to the knowledge of the truth, they will all be such 
as had failed to improve their more favorable op 
portunities in the preceding days of Divine long- 
suffering and forbearance; and hence, by way of 
judgment for their previous folly, their piety, at 
this late hour, becomes a thing of sore cost. Hav 
ing been unbelieving, worldly-minded, and hypo 
critical, when they might have walked with God 
without serious risk, they now find the way of 
salvation judicially become a way of torture and 
of death. Evil and depravity will hold the sove 
reignty and power in this world unto the last 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:0-11. 349 

And it would be strange if the bad passions, which 
then are to reach their most aggravated intensity, 
should not also develop particular violence in the 
direction from which the Church, in every age, 
has suffered more or less. 

Hence, this fifth seal is the picture of Persecu 
tion and Martyrdom. As soon as it was opened, 
John saw souls of people " slain on account of the 
word of God, and on account of the testimony 
which they held fast." It sets before us the solemn 
fact, that people who will not give their hearts to 
God now, when once these judgment times set in, 
if they ever get to heaven at all, will be compelled 
to go there through fire and blood. 

There are no voices of command from heaven 
under this seal, and no messengers despatched 
from the throne; for the reason, that bloody per 
secutions of God s servants come from beneath 
not from above. It is the devil who is the mur 
derer from the beginning, and by him, and his 
seed, has all martyr-blood been made to flow that 
ever has flowed or ever will. It is the Dragon 
that makes war with the saints. Celestial powers 
are concerned in it no further than to permit the 
malignant butchery. It is not flashed forth from 
the sky, like the calamities with which the wicked 
and rebellious are overwhelmed; but it is left to 
develop itself from Satan s reign and domination 
in the hearts of his children, unmoved by any di 
rect agency from heaven. The Living ones do not 
say, Go! for they are neither directly nor indi 
rectly concerned in bringing s altering upon God s 


servants for their fidelity to the truth. No horse* 
dash out upon the scene, because no Divine powers 
are employed in martyring the saints. The entire 
earthly part of the proceeding enacts itself by the 
powers already in sway among depraved mortals, 
and John beholds only the results. The seal opens, 
and the invisible world has a vast accession of 
souls of martyrs, slain on account of the word of 
God, and on account of the testimony which they 
held fast. They are not the martyrs of the past 
ages, for those, by this time, already have their 
crowns, and are seated on their heavenly thrones, 
and are with Christ in glorified form, as we saw 
in chapters 4 and 5. These are, therefore, martyrs 
of this particular period martyrs who suffer the 
great tribulation which all preceding saints and 
martyrs escape martyrs of the judgment times, 
who lose their lives for their faithful testimony 
during the sharp and troublous era in which God s 
judgments are in the earth. 

In treating of them more particularly, we may 




It is an old maxim : Non est mors, sed causa mortis 
qucefacit martyr em. "It is not death, but the cause 
in which death is incurred, which constitutes a 
martyr." Millions upon millions perish under 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11. 351 

the preceding seals, but they are not therefore 
martyrs. The cause for which the persons men 
tioned here were slain, constitute them true mar 
tyrs. They " had been slain on account of the word 
vf God, and on account of the testimony which they held 
fast." However skeptical, rationalistic, or unbe 
lieving they may have been previous to the setting 
in of the judgment, the occurrences under the first 
four seals had quite cured them of their erroneous 
thinking and indifference. "What they once held 
only in the coldness of mere speculative faith, or 
received only with much subtle refining, and rasp 
ing down to a materialistic philosophy, or disbe 
lieved altogether, they had now learned, to their 
sorrow, to have been the literal and infallible word 
of God. The Bible they now read with new eyes, 
and received and obeyed with a new heart. Its 
literal teachings they now were brought to under 
stand, appreciate, live, and proclaim as the unmis 
takable Revelation of the Lord God Almighty. 
There will still be plenty of unbelief, skepticism, 
and utter rejection of the Scriptures; and the domi 
nant spirit of the will be the spirit of re 
bellion against the Lord, and of contempt for his 
word. But that spirit will now have been quite 
cast out of the persons brought to view in this 
vision. Having learned to deny themselves, to 
crucify their self-seeking, to cease from their con 
fidence in their own fancies, and to accept, live, 
and testify to the true will and word of God, they 
will have come to be genuine servants of the Most 
High. And this is one of the procuring causes of 


the world s hatred of them, and wish to have them 
put out of the way. 

But there is something more special entering 
into the cause of their martyrdom. In addition 
to their close adherence to the Divine word, and 
as one of the most marked fruits of it, there was a 
particular "testimony which they held fast;" and 
on account of which, more directly, the world 
could not abide them. Many have regarded their 
whole testimony as nothing different from the 
common testimony of good and faithful men in 
every age. John says that he "was in the isle 
that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and 
for the testimony of Jesus Christ;" and the testi 
mony of these martyrs is considered to be the 
same for which John was banished. But the 
phraseology is not the same, and seems to indicate 
something personal to these martyrs themselves. 
It was not the testimony of Jesus in general; but 
"TT^V napruptav THAT testimony, which they held fast" 
some particular testimony specially in question 
in their times, and specially obnoxious to the then 
reigning spirit. And when we consider the char 
acter of the period in which they were called to 
testify; what it was that had operated to bring 
them into this attitude of zeal for the Divine 
word; what would naturally be uppermost in a 
mind enlightened as to the times on which they 
had fallen, and what would be most offensive to 
an unbeliever in those times, we can be at no loss 
to have suggested to us what the particular char 
acter of that testimony was. It was necessarily a 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11. 353 

testimony touching the judgment already begun ; 
a testimony which interpreted all the plagues, dis 
orders, and horrors around them, as the veritable 
inflictions of the Almighty, now risen up to pay 
off all the long-accumulating arrearages of his 
wrath upon transgressors; a testimony that the 
true elect had already been received up into glory, 
and that, in a few short years more, the whole 
mystery of God should be finished, and all hie 
enemies cast down to irretrievable perdition; a 
testimony that swift and utter destruction now 
impended over all the governments, fabrics, pow 
ers, and hopes of this world ; that the fires were 
then already burning which should never more be 
extinguished or repressed till everything of this 
world, and all its devotees, should be consumed 
from root to leaf; that Christ, the angry Judge, 
was then present in the clouds, ready to be re 
vealed in all the terrors of his consuming power; 
that the day of grace was in its last darkening 
twilight of departure, after which nothing should 
remain but everlasting discomfiture and death; a 
testimony that the world was then already trem 
bling in the agonies of its dissolution, arid that the 
last hope of salvation was flickering in its socket, 
ready to expire. 

In a modified degree, this is ever the testimony 
of the true people and ministers of God; but, at 
such a time, and in such surroundings as these 
martyrs testified, there would needs be an inten 
sity, a certainty, and a pressing urgency in their 
convictions and utterances, such as had never be- 
VOL. i. 23 


fore appeared. People who had been cool, com 
placent, and philosophic in their religion before, 
will then have been awakened to a state of warmth, 
and earnestness, and excitement, and zeal, a thou 
sandfold more irrepressible and energetic than 
what they had previously regarded as sheer fa 
naticism, and piety run mad. Oh, there will be 
fervor then, and outspoken testifying for God 
then, and warnings with tears and entreaties then, 
and striking expositions of the prophecies then, 
and appeals and outpourings from the men of God 
more thrilling than the cries of Jonah in the streets 
of Nineveh! It will be more than the hardened 
hearts of scorning unbelievers can bear. And be 
cause of being besieged and pressed by the resist 
less arguments and fervency which then shall be 
brought to bear upon them, they will seize the 
witnesses of the truth, and punish them, and re 
sort to all sorts of murderous violence, to silence 
them, and put them out of the world. Thus, then, 
because their days of indifference toward the Di 
vine predictions have passed away, and because 
they now are faithful in standing to the truth as 
to what God has said, and as to what times they 
.have iullen upon, and because they will no more 
keep silence touching the awful perdition about 
to break forth upon the guilty world, they are 
massacred and slain. 


They are "souls" disembodied soulssouls in 
that state which ensues as the result of corporeal 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11, 355 

Their slaying, then, is not the end of them. It 
is not the total interruption of their being in all 
respects. It makes them invisible to men in the 
flesh, in the natural state; but it does not hinder 
their living on as souls, or their being visible to 
heavenly eyes, or to the eyes of John in his super 
natural and prophetic exaltation. The holy Apoca- 
lyptist tells us that he "saw" them, although they 
"had been slain;" and heard them speaking with 
loud voices, though their material tongues had 
been burnt to ashes, and their corporeal organs of 
speech had been stiffened in death. 

It is altogether a wrong interpretation of the 
Scriptures which represents the dead in a state of 
non-existence, unconsciousness, or oblivion. I am 
not among those who think that " they which are 
fallen asleep in Christ are perished," either for 
ever, or for a limited time. There is such a thing 
as an intermediate state between death and the 
resurrection ; but it is not a state of utter dilapi 
dation and cessation of being. It is an abnormal 
and unsatisfactory state, far below what is to be 
gained by the resurrection ; but it is not a state of 
vacancy and nothingness. However strongly the 
ruinous character and evil of death may be stated 
in some Old Testament passages, there are others 
in the Scriptures which, by all just and fair exe 
gesis, prove and demonstrate that mental and 
psychical life continues under it, and continues in 
wakeful consciousness. And if any one has doubts 
upon this point, let him candidly consult and deter 
mine the positive meaning of the following texts; 


Matt. 10 : 28 : " Fear not them which kill the body, 
but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him 
which is able to destroy both soul and body in ML 9 
The argument from this text is plain, unanswer 
able, and conclusive. If the tsoul dies, or goes into 
oblivion, when the body dies, then he that kills 
the body would, with the same stroke, kill the 
soul too. But our Saviour tells us that those who 
kill the body cannot kill the soul. And if it be 
said that this is meant only of the utter destruc 
tion of the soul, God having promised a resurrec 
tion to life again, then our Saviour might as well 
have denied that it is in the power of man to k iL 
the body, because God certainly will raise it again 
at the last day. But our blessed Lord grants that 
the body may be killed by man, in the same sense 
wherein he denies that the soul can be; and there 
fore he is not speaking with reference to the resur 
rection at all. There is, then, a life which the 
death of the body cannot touch.* 

Luke 20 : 38 : "He [the God of Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob] is not the. God of the dead, but of the living: 
for all live unto him." So far as the righteous are 
concerned, we are here assured that, although 
they " sleep in Jesus," as regards the body, and 
are " absent from the body," as regards the soul, 
they still " ALL LIVE UNTO GOD." This the Saviour 
quotes from the Old Testament, where "Moses 

* The attempts of Whately, McCausland, and Courteney to 
answer this argument, are really mere evasions ; and there i 
aothing in all the literature on the subject that at all meet* it. 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11. 357 

calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the 
God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ; for He is not 
a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live 
unto Him." The argument assumed is, that a 
negation of existence dissolves all covenant rela 
tions. God cannot be called the God of beings 
who no longer exist, or the continuity of whose 
existence has been interrupted by a blank. What 
ever else He may be, it is no property of His to be 
a God of nonentities. " HE is NOT A GOD OF THE 
DEAD, BUT OP THE LIVING." But Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob were dead, and had been dead for cen 
turies; and yet He proclaims Himself "the God of 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." The conclusion is 
thus deduced by the Saviour, that though Abra 
ham, Isaac, and Jacob were dead, as to their bodies, 
they were still, in some sense, living unto God. 

Very pertinent, also, was this argument to the 
question of the resurrection, in support of which 
it was produced. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 
being still alive unto God, though corporeally dead, 
God s covenant with them still held held because 
both parties were still in being; and because it still 
held, the promises which it included had yet to be 
fulfilled, which could only be in the resurrected 
state. In this text we accordingly have existence 
and life predicated of the righteous dead, and that 
existence and life put forward as the basis of the 
continued validity of the covenant, which cove 
nant necessitates a resurrection, that its promises 
may not fail. And though this passage specific 
ally refers to but one clasa of the dead, yet, by 


disproving the nonexistenee, and establishing the 
continued life of departed believers, it overthrows 
the doctrine of the oblivion of the dead in the ab 
stract, and fastens very strong unlikelihood upon 
its truth in any case. 

Luke 16 : 19-31 : the case of the rich man and 
Lazarus. In this startling parable, if parable such 
an unveiling of the invisible world may be called (it 
is not called a parable in the Scriptures), we have 
not only principles on which to argue the non- 
oblivion of the dead, but literal instances and 
illustrations of the continued life and conscious 
ness of departed souls of both classes good and 
bad. That the scene of this narrative is laid in 
the state immediately succeeding death, and ante 
rior to the resurrection, is indisputable. Hades is 
to be destroyed at the final resurrection; and it is 
not in Hades that the wicked are to have their 
ultimate portion. That is the Abyss, the lake of 
fire, the second death. (See Rev. 20 : 14.) But 
this rich man was in Hades "in Hades (& rw %) 
he lifted up his eyes, and seeth Abraham and 
Lazarus." And at the very time he is suffering 
in Hades, he still has relatives living in the flesh, 
whom he wishes to have warned, that they may 
not encounter similar sufferings. "He said, I 
pray thee, therefore, father, that thou wouldst 
send Lazarus to my father s house, for I have jive 
brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they 
also come into this place of torment" Either, then, 
there will be probation after the general judgment, 
and godless men living in the flesh upon the earth 

LBCTUKB XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11 359 

after the wicked are adjudged to their final pun 
ishment, or this picture must relate to the state 
intermediate between death and the resurrection. 
The first alternative is as unscriptural as it is ab 
surd. The latter, then, must be the fact, and the 
whole scene necessarily fixes itself to the period 
immediately succeeding the death of the body. 
All the terms and relations of the narrative re 
quire this location of it. The received belief of 
the orthodox Jews was such that they could not 
otherwise understand it. And there is no show 
of right to accept the picture in any other rela 

Taking it, then, as we are in reason bound to 
take it, we have it settled, by Christ himself, that 
wicked souls have a life and consciousness which 
death does not interrupt, and that there is still a 
form of being for both good and bad between 
death and the resurrection.* 

* Whately and Courteney think that the torturing " flames " 
spoken of, argue the presence of the body, and so the craved 
water and the parched tongue. But it is assuming too much to 
affirm of the soul in Hades, that it is altogether disrobed of sen 
sitive and vehicular clothing that it is a mere thought-prin 
ciple, a substance without parts, extension, or circumspection 
a mere nobody. Such is not our doctrine, nor that of the Scrip 
tures. Man is a trinity. The apostle assigns to his composition 
a body, a soul, and a spirit. (1 Thess. 6 : 23.) There is such a 
thing as the "dividing asunder of soul and spirit " (Heb. 4 : 12), 
but there is nothing to show that death can do this, or that any 
thing of the sort occurs at death. And why may not the soul 
serve to give the mental principle a locality and a sensibility to 
outward impressions in the state after death, somewhat as the 
body seryee the soul in this life ? Besides, as the world in which 


Luke 23 : 43 : " Verily I say unto you, To-day thou 
shalt be with me in Paradise." Language more 
clear and precise, as to the life and conscious hap 
piness of a saved soul immediately after death, 
cannot be framed. All that Psychopannychists 
have been able to do with it on their theory, 
is, to say that the case of the penitent thief is so 
" peculiar," that we cannot infer from it what will 
be the lot of other men. But it concerned the 
dying Christ as well as the dying thief; and He 
certainly died as deep a death as any of His saints, 
And as both died that day, so they both went that 

the scene is depicted is spiritual, -which the whole narrative as 
sumes, what right have we to condition its flames by the laws 
which apply only in the natural world ? The torments which 
the rich man suffered were, of course, of a sort answering to the 
character of the world in which he felt them, and of a nature to 
take effect on the sort of existence in which the scene is laid. 
Leaving the earth, the flames are no longer to he considered 
flames of earthly fire, or the thirst as earthly thirst, or the water 
desired as earthly water, or the pain as earthly pain. All is of 
a class with the new state and character of things. It is not 
figurative, as some have been willing to claim, but neither is it 
corporeal, as these men would assume. And if it were, we have 
no proof that material fire can affect a resurrected body any 
more than a disembodied soul. It is precisely of the nature 
of Hs.des, and of the nature of man s form of being in Hades, 
that all this is affirmed. So the narrative alleges, and in no 
other way is it allowable to argue with reference to these flumes 
or sufferings. At any rate, Hades is specifically indicated as 
the place and state, and the lifetime of his "five brethren" in 
the flesh is noted as the time, in which these conscious pains and 
anxieties were experienced by this godless deceased worldling. 
Hence, if Christ is to be accepted as authority, wicked souli are 
alive and conscious between death and the resurrection. 


day, and before the resurrection of either, into 
Paradise. Be that Paradise what it may, Christ 
and the thief were not yet in it while they lived 
on their crosses, and yet were in it before the day 
ended, and while their bodies yet hung upon those 
stakes. It was not a state of non-existence or ob 
livion, for it was the subject of consoling hope and 
promise, and the declaration embraced the idea of 
conscious presence and fellowship with each other, 
on reaching the blessed place. Being is affirmed 
e<nj, thou SHALT BE. Communion is affirmed 
fter spot), WITH ME. Conscious happiness is affirmed 
iv T<p xapadetffy, IN PARADISE. Time is specified, 
not the time of the resurrection, or after a long 
and indefinite period of nothingness, but ffrjfiepov, 
THIS DAY the very day they hung side by side on 
Calvary, and before the setting of the sun then 
sinking beyond the sea.* 

The case of Paul (Phil. 1 : 2) is also in point. 
If ever son of Adam lived a noble life on earth, it 

* Some have proposed to change the punctuation of the pas 
sage, so aa to make the r^yo? refer to the time of the utterance 
of the promise, and not to the time of its fulfilment. But whence 
the reason for so solemnly asserting that he said it that day, when 
it was evident that he was speaking it that day, and not on some 
other day? Well has Bean Alford observed: This attempt, 
considering that it not only violates common sense, but destroys 
the force of the Lord s promise, is surely something worse than 
silly." And every interpretation of these words which cuts 
out of them the recognition of the conscious life and blessed 
ness of righteous souls between death and the resurrection, so 
far as we have seen, does but put an equivoke in those holy 
lips, otherwise as guileless as the heavens. 


was this great apostle. To him to live was an 
unspeakable blessing to the Church, and to him 
self a zeal, and joy, and divinest fellowship with 
the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ. To him to 
live was Christ. And yet he adds, " To MB TO DIB 
is GAIN," gain even upon such a life. "Then, 
surely," as "William Arthur puts it, "it was not to 
enter into nothingness, and to continue in noth 
ingness while the world stands. From the life of 
an apostle to a state of torpor, is progress, not 
from glory to glory, but from glory to death not 
gain, but blank and benumbing loss. Though his 
life here had many burdens, Paul proclaimed its 
joys to all; yet he had a desire to depart and be 
with Christ, which is far better. He does not 
mean that the resurrection life is better, for it 
would not be delayed a day by his staying to profit 
the churches here, nor hastened by his departing. 
The better state he had in view is manifestly one 
which is postponed while he remains in the body, 
but which will open so soon as he goes hence. Is 
it, then, better to be nothing than to be an apos 
tle? to miss days and years, than to improve them? 
to be as inanimate as water spilled upon the ground, 
than to be communing with God and serving man? 
Had Paul expected that, in departing, he would 
become inanimate, surely he would have regarded 
each moment added to his holy labors, not as a 
delay of a far better life, but as so much golden 
time rescued from emptiness. Who can reconcile 
to his heart the notion of Christ s great ambassa 
dor desiring to depart and be a blank? And, at 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-1.1. 368 

last, that great soul stands on life s extremes! 
verge, crying, I have finished my course. A 
moment, and it is gone ! And what now is it in 
its new dwelling? A dark and vacant thing, mere 
emptiness?" Then nothingness is gain on apos 
tolic usefulness, and communion with God ! Then 
to lie in oblivious death, is better than to hope, 
and pray, and praise, and live Christ Himself! 
Who can believe it for a moment ! 

Consider also the experiences of dying believers, 
and the consciousness which they sometimes mani 
fest in their last moments, of the presence of a 
world which they, then, for the first time, see, and 
among the bright dwellers in which they feel 
themselves going to take their places as earth 
"recedes and disappears." Shall we say that 
these visions of a new-dawning life, and bliss, and 
conscious fellowship, is all hallucination, the mere 
fantasies of an outgoing being, the delusions of the 
holy soul bidding farewell to the universe and 
God, until the archangel s trump shall sound? 
Shall we draw the black line through all these 
cherished testimonies of those saints of God who 
have gone from us, and account them all mean 
ingless, eccentric sparks of scattering existence, as 
it sinks to dark oblivion ? Believe it who wishes ; 
I have not so learned Christ, or the portion of His 

* Refer also to 1 Peter 3 : 19, 20, which, grammatically and 
literally interpreted, proves not only the conscious activity of 
Christ s own soul, in the interval between his death and resur 
rection, but also the consciousness of those human spirits to 


ISTor ought it to-be necessary for any one to go 
beyond the text itself, to be assured of the fact, 
that the death of the body is not the death of the 
soul. These martyrs were " slain," and yet John 
sees and hears them in living and speaking sensi 
bility between their death and their resurrection. 
It will not answer to say that the whole thing is 
only a vision. It was a vision of the reality a mi 
raculous view, in advance of the facts, indeed, but 
of the facts themselves, as they are actually to trans 
pire. The slaying of these martyrs was, likewise, 
nothing but a vision ; but no one thinks of assum 
ing that no literal martyrdom is in contemplation. 
Why then suppose that the asserted continuation 
of their soul-life, after their corporeal death, is not 
to be understood as equally a matter of literal 
reality ? "When an author gives us a thing as a 
matter of fact, that has occurred in his own expe 
rience, we must either accept what he says as true, 
or impeach his credibility or his competency. And 
when John tells us that he saw and heard "the souls 
of those that had been slain" either he is not to be 
believed, or he saw what had no manner of exis 
tence, or the souls of dead saints do live, and act, 
and speak, in a state of separation from the body. 

whom he went and preached in the unseen world. Consider, 
too, the facts and doctrines concerning demons, and the desires 
of these beings to be incorporated with living bodily organisms, 
and the laws and scriptural prohibitions of necromancy and 
communion with the souls of the dead. Was this all supersti 
tion ? And did God legislate against intercourse with nonen 
tities ? 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11. 365 

John saw the souls of these martyrs " beneath the 
altar." Many regard this as " simply symbolical ;" 
but I am not clear that it is so to be taken. No 
earthly altar is meant, for none such existed at 
the time of the vision, or shall exist at the time of 
its fulfilment; at any rate, none acknowledged of 
God. Nor is it exactly a material altar, as we are 
conversant with material things. It is something 
heavenly, and partaking of the same heavenly 
and spiritual nature of the scene out of which all 
these proceedings issue, and from which they are 
contemplated. There is a heavenly Temple, and 
everything that related to the earthly one, was 
patterned after the celestial one. There is a "true 
tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man," 
of which that which Moses built was the material 
picture an<? copy. (Heb. 8 : 1-5; 9 : 21-24.) And 
this altar pertains to that heavenly sanctuary 
whence the "pattern" of the earthly was taken. 
It was at the altar of burnt-offerings that all bloody 
sacrifices were made. Under it there was a deep 
excavation in the solid rock, into which the blood 
of the slain victims was poured. The law com 
manded the officiating priest to "pour all the 
blood or me oullock t*x he bottom of the altar of 
the burnt-offering, whicli is at the door of the tab 
ernacle of the congregation." (Lev. 4 : 7.) The 
ancient arrangement for the reception of this 
blood is still visible. I have myself stood in the 
opening, under the rock, on which the altar had 
its place, and stamped my foot upon the marble 
which closes the mouth of the vast receptacle^ 


and satisfied myself, from the detonations, that 
the excavated space is very deep and large. And 
as the life of the animal was in its blood, this vast 
subterranean cavity was, naturally enough, re 
garded as the receptacle of the lives of the victims 
which there were slain. The Mahommedans, to this 
day, as I was told on the spot, regard it as the place 
where spirits are detained until the day of judg 
ment. They call it The well of spirits. It is in the 
centre of the Mosque of Omar, whose interior had, 
for ages, been most rigidly guarded from the visits 
or eyes of any but Moslems, but, by firman from 
the government, can now be seen. And as the 
deep cavern under the earthly altar was the ap 
pointed receptacle of the lives of the animal sacri 
fices, so the souls of God s witnesses, who fall in 
His service, are received into a corresponding re 
ceptacle beneath the heavenly altar. 

Some describe that altar as Christ, under whose 
protection and shade the souls of the martyrs are 
preserved, free from all perils and evils, till their 
recall, in renewed bodies, by the resurrection. It 
denotes a near and holy relation to God; a place 
of sacred rest under the protection of Christ and 
His sacrifice, and a state of blessedness, to which, 
however, higher stages are to come. The idea of 
sacrifice also pervades the language of Scripture 
in general, respecting eminent devotion in the 
Divine service, especially when life is jeoparded 
or lost in consequence of it. Hence our bodies 
are to oe offered a willing sacrifice unto the Lord. 
Hence Paul spoke of his sufferings for Christ, and 

LBCTUKE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11. 357 

of his approaching martyrdom, as an offering in 
the sacrificial sense. All martyrs are contemplated 
as sacrifices to God. And as sacrifices to the heav 
enly altar, their souls pass into the sacred recep 
tacle beneath that altar. It is precisely the place 
where we would most naturally expect them to be, 
and where they are most sacredly kept, waiting 
for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the 


It is not a mere metaphorical cry, like that of 
the blood of Abel from the ground; but a literal 
cry of visible and conscious existences an articu 
late cry, the voice of which is heard, and the ut 
terances of which are in literal words. " Until 
when, Thou Master, the holy and true, dost thou not 
judge and avenge our blood from them that dwell on 
the earth?" It appears, from this, that their mur 
derers are then still living. Consequently these 
crying ones are a specific class of martyrs, who 
had then very recently been slain. It is another 
item to fix the vision to this particular time. 

* " The souls of Martyrs repose in peace under the Altar, 
and cherish a spirit of patience (patientiain pascunt) until 
others are admitted to fill up their company of glory." Ter- 
tullianj Scorpiace, c. 12. 

The souls of the departed go to the place assigned them by 
God, and there abide until the Resurrection, when they will be 
reunited with their bodies ; and then the saints, both in soul 
and body, will come into the presence of God. " Irenacus- 
Grabe, y. 31 


The cry is addressed to the throne. It is not a 
vindictive cry, although it looks to the avenging 
of their blood. If the whole scene did not relate 
to the judgment period, it would be difficult to 
avoid attaching the idea of intense vindictiveness 
to this utterance. Such a cry would be out of 
season, except in this place. But it is the time 
of judgment. The judgment throne is set. The 
judgment proceedings have commenced. The 
years have come in which God had long ago 
promised that the principles of His righteous gov 
ernment should be enforced, to the recompense of 
His people, the vindication of their wrongs, and 
the overthrow of evil. They had every assurance 
that such was the Divine intention, and that this 
was the period for its fulfilment. They could not, 
therefore, understand why there should be delay. 
The thing had begun, why was it not at once car 
ried to its consummation ? They had sacrificed 
their lives to this particular testimony, and every 
thing had appeared to them in the very article of 
the long-predicted fulfilment; how was it, then, 
that it now tarried ? Even the titles by which 
they address the Lord, show that this was the 
feeling and spirit of their inquiry. It was not so 
much impatience that their blood was not avenged, 
as their perplexity about the hesitation which 
seemed to retard the ongoing of what they knew 
had commenced. They do not address Christ as 
the Saviour, but as 6 ds^rqs the centre of irre 
sistible power already in force the holy and true 
DESPOT, now on His judicial throne. Their hearts 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11. 369 

are set, as they were in life, on the glorious con 
summation begun before they were slain. They 
had died for their testimony that the time for that 
consummation had come. And as it still delayed, 
and could only be realized in the visitation of 
vengeance upon the wicked hosts who had mur 
dered them, they cry to the great and holy 
Avenger, to know why it tarried, and how long 
the suspense was to last. It was an utterance 
from the world of disembodied saints, somewhat 
akin, in feeling and meaning, to that which John 
the Baptist sent from his prison to the Saviour. 
(Matt. 11 : 2-10.) It shows us that the interme 
diate state is still an imperfect state, and that the 
proper hope of saints is connected with the resur 
rection of the body. Bede has remarked upon 
this passage, that " those souls which offered 
themselves a living sacrifice to God, pray eter 
nally for His coming to judgment: not from any 
vindictive feeling against their enemies, but in a 
spirit of zeal and love for God s glory and justice, 
and for the coming of that day, when sin, which 
is rebellion against Him, will be destroyed, and 
their own bodies raised." 


Jehovah does not disdain to lend an ear to the 
cry of His faithful servants. He is concerned for 
their rest, comfort, and right information, even 
while they lie disembodied beneath His altar. The 
prayers of His people are always precious before 
Him, and their peace He will ever consult. He 
VOL. i. 24 


heard the appeal of His slain ones, and came to 
minister to their souls the requisite comfort. 
Living or dead, if we are faithful to God and His 
word, we shall not want any merciful grace and 
help appropriate to us. The Lord remembers us 
in our sufferings and trials on earth, and He will 
not fail to come to us under the altar, to comfort 
tind establish us concerning His purposes and ways. 
He will not forget or disregard us when dead, any 
more than when living; and our necessities, apart 
from the body, are as graciously cared for as those 
in the flesh. Indeed, His promises overspan every 
possible contingency of our existence, in the body 
or out of the body, in time or in eternity. His 
word to us is, that He will never leave nor for 
sake us. 

"There was given to each of them a white robe" 
Can lifeless shades and non-existences receive 
white robes? Can spilled blood, dead and ab 
sorbed in the earth, wear the livery of heaven ? 
Yet these souls of slain ones received each the ce 
lestial stola, even while their resurrection delayed. 
And that stola was the symbol of their justifica 
tion the Divine assurance of the truth and ac~ 
ceptableness of their testimony the cheering 
token from the throne that they were approved, 
and precious, and near to their Lord, and blessed 
with his favor, notwithstanding that what they 
hoped and testified was still deferred. "White 
robes, in such connections, are always the em 
blems of Divine approval and blessed relationship 
with God. And the giving of them to these zeal- 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:*-ll, 37] 

ous and anxious souls under the altar, was the 
cheering proof of their preciousness in the Mas 
ter s sight. 

"And it was said to them" . . . Mark; how 
could dead ashes hear and understand? "Where 
was the use and meaning of speaking promises to 
unconscious dust, which knows not anything? 
Where is the sense or intelligibility of such a con 
verse, if no living and wakeful beings are con 
cerned? God does not speak his comforts and 
promises to nothings. And yet it was said to 
these souls of martyrs, in advance of their resur 
rection, " that they should rest yet a little time. " This 
implies that they had been resting, and that their 
state was one of blessed repose and quiet, though 
imperfect. The dead in the Lord are not wander 
ing, melancholy ghosts. They are experiencing 
the meaning of that sweetest word of our lan 
guage rest. And over their ashes, at least, we 
may confidently sing: 

Happy the dead ! they peacefully rest them, 
From burdens that galled, from cares that oppressed them ; 
From the yoke of the world, and from tyranny, 
The grave, the grave hath set them free, 
The grave hath set them free. 

But, after this rest, comes a brighter day, and 
n sublimer station. "Yet a little time," these 
slain ones are told, and then that day will come. 
The reason for the delay is also explained to 
them. Their number is not yet full, and the 
world is not yet quite ripe for its doom. Hence 
it was said to them, " that they should rest yet a 


little time, until their fellow-servants also, and their 
brethren, shall have been completed, who are about tc 
be slain, as also they themselves [had been~\" John 
is made to hear these words, because they are a 
prophecy for the Church on earth, as well as an 
explanation to the souls waiting in heaven. They 
tell of continued persecution and bloody Buffer 
ings for God s witnesses among men. Many good 
people are wont to think the days for killing men, 
on account of their religious principles, have long 
since passed, never to return. They natter them 
selves that the world has become too enlightened, 
too humane, too civilized, too much pervaded with 
a reasonable and forbearing spirit, ever to repeat 
such scenes as were enacted by Pagan rule, or in 
the dark ages of Christendom. But they are en 
tirely mistaken. We may think the world has 
changed, but it still has that ancient murderer for 
its god and prince, and its malignity towards the 
Lord s people, especially when they come to be 
sifted out from their present adulterous intimacy 
with the world, will again head up : into an inten 
sity to which there has been no parallel in the past. 
This fifth seal is a revelation of nothing but slaugh 
ter for the saints, as regards this world, and the 
times to which it relates. It shows us slaughtered 
saints in heaven, and tells of the slaughter of many 
more. And elsewhere, in this book, we are ad 
vised of coming times, when an idol shall be the 
object of the world s adoration, and as many as 
will not worship it shall be killed. (Kev. 13 : 15.) 
This might seem to be but poor consolation to 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11 373 

these resting souls; and yet, a real congelation it 
was. It assured them that they were not alone in 
the sufferings they had experienced; that theirs 
was but the common lot of all faithful ones in 
those trying times; that, though they were dead, 
the cause in which they died still had representa 
tives, who would stand to it unto death, as they 
had done; and that, though the consummation 
was delayed yet for a little while, their sufferings 
were over, and there was a flood of sorrow still to 
deluge the earth from which they now were free. 

But, above all, was the assurance, pervading 
and implied in each particular, that what they had 
hoped and testified, was presently to be accom 
plished. Those white robes were the earnest of a 
sublimer life. Their martyrdom for their stead 
fast maintenance of the truth, was duly remem 
bered, arid, in a little while, should be fully re 
quited to them, and to the godless hosts who had 
inflicted it. Their blood was not long to remain 
unavenged from them that dwell on the earth. 
The years of waiting and of suffering were now 
on the margin of their close. Yet a little time, 
and the consummation should be complete. Yet 
a little while, and the wicked should not be : yea, 
they should diligently consider his place, and it 
should not be. The thrones were already set; the 
work was really in progress; the time of the end 
had verily come; and, after a short space more, 
they would be able to say: "I have seen the 
wicked in great power, and spreading himself 
like a green bay-tree ; yet he passed away, and lo, 


he was not : yea, I sought him, but he could not 
be found." (Ps. 37 : 35, 36.) 

Striking and impressive is the fact here brought 
to view, that that which the saints of all ages have 
been " looking for," and which has been their 
" blessed hope " in every time of earthly trial and 
adversity, even "the glorious appearing of our 
great God and Saviour Jesus Christ" (Tit. 2 : 13, 
14), is also the chief comfort and stay of the pious 
dead in their heavenly rest. " Until when, Thou 
Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge 
and avenge our blood from them that dwell on 
the earth ?" is the cry which they utter " with a 
great voice " from beneath the altar. They rest, 
but their desire for the end still rises, and glows, 
and pleads. And the chief element of the conso 
lation which they receive is, that that consumma 
tion cometh. 

And if the holy martyrs, in their white robes 
under the heavenly altar, make so much of it, and 
find their chief comfort in the contemplation of 
its nearness, how unreasonable and unjust that 
we should be accounted enthusiasts and fanatics, 
for pointing to it as our hope and joy amid these 
earthly tribulations ? "Why should it be branded 
as lunacy, when we wish and pray, with departed 
saints, that sin s long war against the majesty of 
heaven were over that the rending strife of spir 
itual evil, which has so long torn God s world, 
should come to an end that the vast train of 
wrongs, with which Satan has been oppressing 
Heaven s sons and beautiful creations, should be 

LECTURE XIII. CHAP. 6:9-11. 375 

done away? Would it really be for the peace, 
and piety, and consolation of the Church, that all 
such interest should cease, and that all such testi 
mony should be silenced? Would it really be 
God s kingdom come, and His will done on earth 
as it is in heaven, if all prayer and prophecy of 
coming and nearing judgment were to be hushed 
from such a world as ours ? Or, should we not 
rather be grateful that there are on earth, and will 
be, even in its darkest times, some to echo the 
spirit which thrills in the hearts of departed souls, 
testifying to an evil and adulterous generation, of 
a coming vengeance, in order to a completed re 
demption? Let men scowl, and mutter their ill- 
timed reproaches, if they will, and persecute, even 
unto death, those who hold it fast, there is in this 
theme what constitutes the true hope of the saints, 
whether suffering in the flesh or resting in heaven, 
and on account of which we may well ever 

Thank God, there s still a vanguard 

Fighting for the right ! 
Though the throng flock to rearward, 

Lifting, ashen- white 
Flags of truce to sin and error, 
Cxasping hands, mute with terror, 
Thank God, there s still a vanguard 

lighting for the right ! 

Through the wilderness advancing, 

Hewers of the way, 
Forward 1 far their spears are glancing, 

Flashing back the day. 
"Back!" the leaders cry, who fear them; 
" Back I " from all the army near them ; 
Ihey, with steady step advancing, 

Cleave their certain wav. 


Slay them! From each drop that falleth 

Springs a hero armed. 
Where the martyr s fire appalleth, 

Lo, they pass unharmed. 
Crushed beneath thy wheel, oppression, 
Bold, their spirit holds possession, 
Loud the dross-purged voice out-calleth 

By the death-throes vr armed. 

Thank God, there s still a vanguard 

Fighting for the right! 
Error s legions know their standard, 

Floating in the light. 
When the league of sin rejoices, 
Quick outring the rallying voices : 
".Thank God, there s still a vanguard 

Fighting for the right!" 



RCT. 6 : 12-17. (Revised Text.) And I saw when he had opened the 
sixth seal., and there was a great shaking ; and the sun became black u 
sackcloth of hair, and the whole moon became as blood ; and the stars 
of the heaven fell to the earth, as a fig-tree gheddeth her untimely [or 
winter] figs when shaken by a great wind. And the heaven recoiled as 
a book [or scroll] rolling itself together ; and every mountain and island 
were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the 
great men, and the captains of thousands, and the rich, and the mighty, 
and every slave, and every freedman, hid themselves in the caves and 
the rocks of the mountains. And they say to the mountains and to the 
rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the 
throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb : because the great day of His 
[or, as some MSS., their] wrath is come, and who is able to stand ! 

WE have here a sublime and startling descrip 
tion. Some think that it refers to the de 
struction of Jerusalem ; others, to the persecutions 
under Diocletian ; still more, to the victories of the 
Church under Constantine ; and some, to the final 
judgment and the end of all things. But neither 
of these applications of this vision, as I am eon- 
strained to take it, is the true one. 

( 871 ) 


The evidence is sufficiently conclusive that John 
wrote years after the fall of the Jewish state, whilst 
he is particular to tell us that all these visions refer 
to things to come subsequent to the time of his 
writing. It is also plain that the terrors described 
are not such as pertain to Christians, however 
fiercely persecuted. And the theory which ap 
plies it to the age of Constantine, besides other 
objections which it cannot satisfactorily solve, 
labors under the fatal embarrassment of having 
to adapt a picture of sheer disaster and calamity 
to events which were not only, for the most part, 
terrorless, but whose chief characteristics were 
peaceful and prosperous. Had John beheld the 
sun bursting forth, with new lustre, from an 
eclipse of darkness, and the moon coming out 
from under a bloody obscuration, to shine with 
silver light, and the stars taking their places se 
renely in the heavens, there might be some show 
of adapting the description to the events marking 
the Constantinian period. But he saw no such 
things. He saw the very reverse, with not a re 
lieving ray from first to last. Nor were all kings, 
rulers, and great men, then driven from their 
thrones and palaces to seek shelter in the rocks 
and mountains. "With all the changes, Pagans 
were still permitted to enjoy full religious liberty, 
and did not answer at all to the terrified and con 
science-stricken masses of high and low, whom we 
here behold confessing the power and majesty of 
God and the Lamb, and seeking for death to con 
ceal them from the fearfulness of avenging wrath. 

LECTURE XIV. CHAP. 6:12-17. 379 

And whatever secondary and imperfect fulfilments 
this opening of the sixth seal may have had in the 
history of the past, it is impossible for any one to 
Jook at it attentively without feeling that the day 
of judgment itself must come in order to exhaust 
the description, and that it belongs properly and 
only to those great events which immediately 
precede and usher in the great consummation. 

And yet it does not refer to the last acts of that 
terrible drama. It is only the sixth seal, while 
there is yet a seventh to follow it. With all its 
terrors, it is only one link in the chain of judicial 
wonders which the great day will bring. Much 
of the language employed, and the descriptions 
which follow, show that we still have to do with 
the present order of things, although in its last 
stages. The action of all the seals is the action 
of judgment, after the saints have been taken to 
their Lord in the sky; and we here have the sixth 
in the series, whilst the final catastrophe is still 
deferred. Neither Titus, nor Diocletian, nor Con- 
stantine, has anything whatever to do with it; but 
only those people, who shall be living upon the 
earth in " the time of the end." 

The words before n present two classes of 



We will consider them in the order in which 
they are narrated, looking to God to enlighten and 
bless us in the attempt. 


1. Great commotion in the fabric oj nature,. "I. 
saw when he had opened the sixth seal, and there 
was a great shaking." The common version says 
earthquake; but the original word (Vef^oc) is not 
so limited and specific. Though usually rendered 
earthquake, it denotes quakings in general, and is 
often used for any sudden and violent shaking 
in any part of the world. In the following verse 
it is applied to the shaking of the fig-tree. Mat 
thew employs it to express tempestuous commo 
tion of the air and sea (8 : 24) ; and in the Greek 
translation of Joel (2 : 10), it is used to denote vio 
lent disturbances in the heavens. In the form of 
a verb, it signifies to shake, toss, jolt, agitate, 
whether the things shaken be the earth, the air, 
the sea, the sky, or anything else. It here includes 
a general shaking of the earth, as is plainly mani 
fest from the context ; but there is the same reason 
for extending it beyond the earth to the atmo 
sphere, sky, and heavenly regions. The whole 
system of the world is implicated in the vastness 
and violence of the commotion. 

In very many places, great convulsions of nature 
are spoken of in connection with special manifesta 
tions of Deity, particularly when those manifes 
tations are of a judicial character. When God 
gave the law, which was for the restraint and con 
demnation of sin, "Mount Sinai was altogether on 
a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in 
fire, and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke 
of a great furnace, and the whole mount quaked 
greatly " (Ex. 19 : 18.) When Elijah made com- 

LECTURE XIV. CHAP. .: 12-17. 33} 

plaint unto the Lord that Israel had shed the blood 
of His prophets, and trembled for his own safety, 
"The Lord passed by, and a great and strong 
wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the 
rocks; and after the wind an earthquake/ (1 Kings 
19 : 11.) When Jesus was murdered, " the veil of 
the temple was rent in twain from the top to the 
bottom ; and the earth did quake, and the rocks 
rent." (Matt. 27 : 50, 51.) And when Paul and 
Silas were beaten, imprisoned, and put into the 
stocks, and appealed unto the Lord in songs and 
prayers, " suddenly there was a great earthquake, 
so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, 
and all the doors were opened, and every one s 
bands were loosed." (Acts 16 : 26.) 

Especially are such convulsions prophesied of 
in connection with the judgment, and the approach 
and consummation of the end of this world. Jesus 
has plainly told us that " famines, and pestilences, 
and earthquakes" are more and more to character 
ize the coming of the end. (Matt. 24 : 7-9.) In 
the preceding visions we have had the famines, 
pestilences, and persecutions, and here we behold 
the commotions of nature. Haggai has prophe 
sied: "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Yet once, it 
is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and 
the earth, and the sea, and the dry land" (2:6); and 
all this in specified connection with the coming of 
the Desire of nations. Paul, commenting upon 
this and like ancient predictions, speaks of a shj,k- 
ing of the earth and of the heaven, and connects 
this shaking with the coming administrations 


which are to determine and end the dispensation 
(Heb. 12:26-28.) 

We know something of earthquakes how they 
overturn and change the surfaces of countries, 
sink the hills, alter the courses of rivers, over 
whelm vast populations, dry up lakes, set the 
mountains to vomiting fire, and agitate the might 
iest seas. But, in the time to come, when God 
shall judge the nations for their iniquities, there 
shall be enlargements and intensifications of such 
convulsions. The commotions are to be "great" 
and they are to extend to the whole system of our 
world, and to involve the very heavens. 

2. To the general convulsion is added the dark 
ening of the sun. "And the sun became black as 
sackcloth of hair." I take all this literally. There 
is neither reason nor piety in undertaking to ex 
plain away the plain terms of Scripture, where 
there is no necessity for departure from their com 
mon meaning. When the Lord came down on 
Sinai the mountain was shrouded in darkening 
smokiness. When Jesus hung upon the cross, 
" There was darkness over all the earth until the 
ninth hour. And the sun was darkened" (Luke 23 : 
44, 45.) When the judgment of God was upon 
Egypt) "There was a thick darkness in all the 
land three days." (Ex. 10 : 22.) By Isaiah (33 : 9, 
10) the word came forth: "Behold, the day of the 
Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce 
anger, to lay the earth desolate : and he shall de 
stroy the sinners thereof out of it. The sun shall 
be darkened in his going forth" The same was re- 

LECTURE XIV. CHAP. 6:12-17. 

peated by Joel (3 : 9-15). And the blessed Saviour 
himself has told us, that " immediately after the 
tribulation of those days," and soon before the ap 
pearance of the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, 
shall the sun be darkened." (Matt. 24 : 29, 30.) 

In what manner this darkening is to be pro 
duced, is nowhere told us. It may be by some 
natural eclipse, or it may be by some extraordi 
nary putting forth of the power of God for the pur 
pose. We cannot explain the three days darkness 
sent upon the Egyptians, nor the darkness which 
prevailed during the Saviour s crucifixion. It is 
easy enough for Omnipotence, either by natural 
or miraculous causes, to fulfil His own word. Ex 
traordinary obscurations of the sun have more than 
once happened, and they can just as readily be 
made to happen again, if God so wills, and in a 
still more marvellous degree of intensity. On the 
19th of May, 1780, a wonderfully dark day was 
experienced throughout the northeastern portion 
of this country. The witnesses of it have described 
it as supernatural and unaccountable. It was not 
an ordinary eclipse, for the moon was nearly at 
the full. It was not owing to a clouded condition 
of the atmosphere, for the stars were visible. Yet 
it was so dark from nine o clock in the morning 
throughout the usual hours of sunshine, that work 
had to be suspended, houses had to be lit with 
candles, the beasts and fowls went to their rest as 
in the night-time. And though the sun was vis 
ible, it had the appearance of being shorn of all 
its power of illumination. Connect such an oo 


cnrrence with the general convulsions which have 
just been described, extend it over the world, in 
tensify it according to the description of the text, 
and you may form some conception of this feature 
of what the opening of the sixth seal shall bring, 
when the sun shall be dull and rayless as the hair 
cloth of a Bedouin s tent. 

3. A further particular is the ensanguined appear 
ance of the moon. " And the whole moon became 
as blood." A writer on the Apocalypse has said: 
" The further I advance in the exposition of this 
book of prophecy, the more convinced I feel that 
the key to its interpretation is to be found in the 
great outline of things which shall be hereafter 
sketched out by our Lord Jesus Christ in His 
prophecy on the Mount of Olives." Recurring to 
that "outline," we find this lunar phenomenon 
distinctly referred to. As the sun is to be dark 
ened, so also "the moon shall not give her light" 
(Matt. 24 : 29.) The nature of the portentous ob 
scuration is also described. With the privation 
of its usual effulgence, the moon is to be con 
verted into an object of horror. In place of the 
genial silver disk, men shall behold, as it were, an 
orb of blood dark, dim, sickly, and portentous. 
The same is spoken of in other prophecies. In 
Joel (2 : 80) we read, that before the consumma 
tion of " the great and terrible day of the Lord," 
not only " the sun shall be turned into darkness," 
but also "the moon into blood." Anticipations 
and foreshadows of this have, in like manner, 
occurred. Great convulsions in the earth and at- 

LECTURE XIV. CHAP. :U-17. 385 

mosphere often produce such appearances of the 
sun and moon. When the earth is shaken by the 
wrath of God, the heavenly luminaries sympathize 
with the general commotion ; and along with this 
"great shaking" a shaking, not of the earth only, 
but of heaven also, we might well expect the sun 
to put on blackness, and the full moon to appear 
as if deluged in blood. Whatever the specific de 
tails of the manifestation may be, by whatever 
means produced, or however long continued, the 
general character of it will be sufficiently marked 
and terrific to correspond with the awfulness 01 
the occasion to which it relates. Similar language 
may have applied to other scenes, but it will then 
be realized with a fulness and literalness which 
have never yet been, and on a scale altogether un 

4. Then comes the falling of stars. "And the 
stars of the heaven fell to the earth, as a fig-tree 
sheddeth her untimely [or winter] figs, when 
shaken by a great wind." Some see in this an 
impossibility in the way of accepting this descrip 
tion as literal. But they are thinking only of the 
great and unknown bodies which shine in the vast 
fields of immensity. It remains to be proven, 
however, that the apostle had his eye upon stars 
of that character. Those heavenly orbs, of which 
astronomy tells, are not the only objects to which, 
in common language, the word stars literally ap 
plies. Even science speaks of " shooting stars," 
and " falling stars," which are not worlds at all, 
but meteors, visible only while they fall, and leay- 
VOL. i. 25 


ing no discoverable remains where they seem to 
alight. It used to be thought that they were gen 
erated in our atmosphere, but learned men now 
i egard them as incandescent fragments of matter, 
detached perhaps from their proper places, and set 
on fire and consumed by contact with the atmo 
sphere of the earth. Such a convulsion as the 
text describes, would naturally multiply the num 
ber of such loose particles, which, precipitated 
into our atmosphere, and ignited by contact with 
it, would not only fill it with moving incandescent 
points, such as we call shooting or falling stars, 
but also fulfil the image to which the apostle 
likens the falling. Conceiving of the physical 
universe as a great fig-tree, he beholds it terrific 
ally shaken, but in no way blown down or de 
stroyed. Only its unseasonable fruit, which winter 
has overtaken, and incongenial weather has ren 
dered ready to drop, is made to fall. 

There is also something peculiar in the apostle s 
designation of these falling stars, which does not 
appear in the common version, but which is worth 
notice. He calls them "the stars of the heaven." 
Not simply "the stars/ as if there could be no 
mistake as to the objects intended nor yet "the 
stars of the heavens" generally considered but 
"the stars of the heaven;" some particular stars of 
some particular heaven. And when we call to 
mind that the word hwven is often used to denote 
the air, the atmosphere which surrounds the earth, 
the region in which the clouds move, it becomes 
more than probable that he is here referring to 

LECTURE XIV CHAP. 6:12-17. 337 

objects which pertain to this particular region 
alone. The stars proper are certainly still found 
in their places after the fulfilment of this vision. 
(See chap. 8 : 12.) And remembering that the 
Scriptures speak in the common language of men, 
without reference to the distinctions of science, 
and that even science itself still popularly speaks 
of " falling stars," when it means simply meteoric 
phenomena, it appears but reasonable that we 
should understand the apostle to be speaking of 
something of the same sort. Professor Stuart 
agrees that the meaning of the words is suffi 
ciently met by such an interpretation, and that the 
reference most likely is to some meteoric niani- 
fesfcation, the like of which has once in a while 
happened, and which we find spoken of, among 
the people and in the books, under the name of 
falling stars. 

A most marvellous meteoric shower of this 
class was witnessed on the night of the 13th of 
November, 1833. It is perhaps remembered by 
many now present. During the three hours of its 
continuance, hundreds and thousands of people, 
of all classes, were thrown into the utmost con 
sternation, and filled with the belief that the very 
scene described in this text, was actually transpir 
ing. Fiery balls, as luminous and as numerous 
as the stars, came darting after each other from 
the sky, with vivid streaks of light trailing in the 
track of each. They were of various sizes and 
degrees of splendor, flashing as they fell, and so 
bright as to awaken people from their sleep. It 


seemed as if every star in the firmament had sud 
denly shot from its sphere, and was falling to the 
earth. And all who saw it will bear witness that 
it was a most terrific spectacle. 

Conceive, then, of a repetition of that scene, in 
tensified and extended according to the spirit of 
this vision, with stunning explosions added to the 
general commotion, and the alarming rush of hiss 
ing balls of fire, darting like rain-drops from the 
sky, and you have exactly what John foresaw in 
this part of his vision of the opening of the sixth 

5. " And the, heaven recoiled as a scroll rolling itself 
together." "We have here the same particular heaven. 
With the prodigies already named, the sky folds 
upon itself. The fastenings which held it out 
stretched, are loosed in the general convulsion, 
and it rolls up. Great, massive, rotary motion in 
the whole visible expanse, is signified, as if it 
were folding itself up to pass away forever. Some 
tell us that this never can literally happen, and that 
we are not therefore to expect it to be fulfilled in 
any physical fact. But why not? Does not Peter, 
m a plainly literal passage, tell us of just such 
commotions in the aerial heavens? Does he not 
say, in so many words, that they shall be loosed 
(lu0Tjffovrai) 9 and move with a noisy rushing, after 
the manner of a tempest?* And so significant 
and awful is to be the nature of the fact, that 
nearly all the prophets have taken notice of it, and 

Set 2 Pet. 8 . 10-12. 

LECTURE XIV. CHAP. 6:12-17. 

foretell the same in language which we must mon 
strously pervert to understand in any other than 
a literal sense. We may not be able to describe 
it in the language of modern science, and philoso 
phers may laugh at the unsophisticated descrip 
tions of God s prophets; but, everything that 
relates to the coming of Christ, and the day of 
judgment, has upon it the same disability. And 
if the literal truthfulness of the record will not 
hold in one case, I cannot see by what reason we 
can insist upon it in another. God certainly is 
able to fulfil literally all that he has spoken, and 
here John tells us that he really saw what Peter 
and other prophets have said shall come to pass. 

6. And all this is further attended with fearful 
changes in the configuration of the earth. "And every 
mountain and island were moved out of their 
places." These are but the natural effects of the 
terrible convulsions that shake everything. On a 
smaller scale, the same has often happened. With 
in the space of a month past, the world has been 
astounded with accounts of an earthquake along 
the Pacific coast of South America, by which 
cities and villages by the score have been blotted 
from the earth, islands moved in their places, 
mountains shaken, vast districts of shore en 
gulfed in the sea, thousands and thousands of 
lives lost, and hundreds of millions of treasure 
destroyed. Extend the same to every country 
and every sea ; let all the dwellers on earth be 
made to feel such a shock, intensified so as to hurl 
the mountains from their seats, and wrench the 


islands from their roots, and convulse each ocean 
from centre to circumference; let the hills ex 
change places with the waters, and all the conse 
quences of such vast and sudden transformations 
be spread over the face of the worjd, with their 
natural effects upon its cities, its traffic, and its 
thronging populations, and you may have some 
idea of the dreadfulness of what John beheld as 
ordained to come to pass under the opening of 
this seal. 

Such, then, are the physical prodigies here fore 
shown. Let us now look at the impression they 
make upon those who witness them. 

" And the kings of the earth, and the great men 
[nobles, lords, princes], and the captains of thou 
sands, and the rich, and the mighty, and every 
slave, and every freedman, hid themselves in the 
caves, and the rocks of the mountains ; and they 
say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, 
and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on 
the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb : be 
cause the great day of His wrath is come, and who 
is able to stand!" 

1. We have here a glimpse of the constitution 
and general condition of society at the time these 
prodigies befall the world. Some believe and 
teach, that free institutions are destined to become 
universal, and that monarchy is doomed to fall 
before the march of modern civilization. We 
here see that such hopes will not be realized. 
Kings are still on their thrones, and princes and 
orders of nobility remain, till the judgment comes. 

LECTURE XIV. CHAP. 6:12-17. $9} 

Some are looking for a blessed time of peace and 
prosperity in this world, when all wars shall cease, 
all armies be disbanded, all nations transmute their 
implements of destruction into instruments of 
husbandry, and the clash of arms be hushed for 
ever. We here see that there will still be soldiers 
and military commanders pursuing their bloody 
profession up to the time of the end. Some will 
have it that universal emancipation has but a few 
more battles to fight, and that human slavery ia 
as good as at an end. We here see that the day 
of judgment still finds slaves in the world, as well 
as men who have but recently been freed, and all 
the present distinctions of class and fortune un 
changed. Suppose that the sixth seal were to be 
opened to-night ; what would it find ? Kings and 
emperors on their thrones ; princes, nobles, dukes, 
and lords, securely priding themselves in the pre 
rogatives of their caste and station; standing 
armies at rest and in action, and military com 
manders with swords upon their sides; rich people 
wallowing in wealth and luxury ; men and women 
in high places and in low, working the wires that 
fashion events ; slaves toiling at their tasks, and 
r reedmen just out of their bondage ; and evidences 
everywhere of a depraved and disordered state of 
things. This is what the judgment would find if 
it came to-night. And this, John tells us, is what 
it finds when it does come in reality. Let po 
litical reformers and theologians then say to the 
contrary what they please, human society as it is, 
and as it has been for these ages, with all its bur- 


dens, disorders, and inequalities, will continue the 
same, till Christ himself shall come to judge it for 
its sins. 

2. There is one thing, however, which shall be 
very different under the opening of the sixth seal, 
from what it is now. The self-security and com 
posure with which godless people live, will then 
be driven to the winds. Though all the judg 
ments under preceding seals may have failed to 
appal or arouse them, they will not be able to 
maintain their equanimity under what this shall 
bring forth. 

I have said, that we know something of the 
dreadfulness of earthquakes. And yet, we, who 
know them only by descriptions, cannot at all 
enter into the feeling of alarm and horror which 
they produce. A gentleman who has had some 
experience on the subject, says: "Although I am 
not a man to cry out or play the fool on such occa 
sions, yet I do fairly own that these earthquakes 
are very awful, and must be felt to be understood. 
Before we hear the sound, or, at least, are fully 
conscious of hearing it, we are made sensible, I 
do not know how, that something uncommon is 
going to happen. Everything seems to change 
color. Our world appears to be in disorder. All 
nature looks different to what it was wont to do. 
And we feel quite subdued and overwhelmed by 
some invisible power, beyond human control or 
comprehension. Then comes the terrible sound, 
distinctly heard ; and immediately the solid earth 
is all in motion, waving to and fro like the surface 

LECTURE XIV. CHAP. 6:15-17. 393 

of the sea. Depend upon it, a severe earthquake 
is enough to shake the firmest mind. No custom 
can teach any one to witness it without the deepest 
emotion of terror." But when this seal opens, 
not only the earth here and there, but everywhere, 
and the sea, and the air, and the heavens, shall 
shake, as for their final dissolution. And with the 
sun turned to blackness, and the moon to blood, 
and the mountains toppling from their bases, and 
the whole framework of nature jarring and creak 
ing like a wrecking ship, there will come over the 
hearts of men a discomfiting consternation, such 
as they never felt or imagined. 

We know something of the alarm and terror 
which the meteoric shower of 1833 struck into the 
hearts and minds of men. People now laugh at 
the strange demonstrations which were then en 
acted, and wonder how it was possible that intelli 
gent and reflecting men could become so terrified, 
or act so contrary to all that had ever distinguished 
them before. But the truth is, that it is a good 
deal easier to play brave toward such things aftei 
they are over, than when they are upon us with 
all their solemn sublimity. And when to the fall 
ing of the stars is added the rocking of the earth, 
the loosening of the mountains, the darkening of 
sun and moon, and the tempestuous collapse of 
the firmament, men may think they can muster 
the nerve to stand it, but they will fail. 

Nor does it matter who or what men may be, 
they will be alike overwhelmed with inexpressible 
dismay and horror. Kings, princes, nobles, men 


used to the shocks of battle, the rich, the great, 
the wise, the bond, the free, high and low, with 
out, exception, become the victims of their fears, 
and tremble, and howl, and pray, and rush to the 
fields, to the cellars, to the caves of the rocks, to 
the clefts in the mountains, to every place where 
shelter and concealment is dreamed of amid the 
general desperation. So John foresaw the scene, 
and so it will be. Self-possession, unshaken cour 
age, dignified composure, philosophic thinking, 
hopefulness, assurance, and the last remains of the 
stern intrepidity and statue-like imperturbability 
which characterize some men now, will then have 
vanished from humanity. That day will destroy 
them utterly. 

3. We notice, also, the correct interpretation 
which mankind will then put upon the terrific 
listurbances of nature around them. Storms, 
earthquakes, eclipses, and unusual phenomena in 
the heavens, are natural symbols of Divine wrath. 
The ancients regarded them as auguring and em 
bodying the destroying power and wrath of Deity. 
They are always and everywhere precursors and 
prophecies of the forthcoming judgment of God. 
They are so presented in the Scriptures, and ac 
cordingly inwrought with all inspired diction. 
There is also an instinct to the same effect, which 
has ever lingered with the race, and which cannot 
be entirely suppressed. Modern science calls it 
superstition. Savans of earthly wisdom propose 
to explain all upon philosophic principles, and 
think to prove to us that neither God, nor His 

LSCTUKE XIV. CHAP. 6:12-17. 

auger, nor His judgments, have aught to do with 
it. People also have become so enlightened now 
adays, as to be above alarm at strange commo 
tions in the elements, or signs in the sky. They 
have learned better. These things may all be 
naturally accounted for. Why, a little care might 
give us tables of them for a thousand years to 
come, with the days, and hours, and minutes 
noted. Indeed, men have become so knowing 
about Nature and her laws, that they do not see 
much necessity any more for a God at all, much 
less for any judgment or interference of His in the 
affairs of the universe. This is the spirit of much 
that men call science, a spirit which is working 
itself into the popular mind, and, sad to say, largely 
affecting even the theological thinking and teach 
ing of the day. But when the vision of the text 
comes to be realized, woe to the materialistic, 
pantheistic, and atheistic philosophies with which 
men suppose they have rid themselves of the su 
perstitions of antiquity ! One flash from the judg 
ment throne will confound them utterly. When 
the sixth seal breaks, and the vibrations of it are 
upon the universe, turning sun and moon to dark 
ness and blood, convulsing the firmament, shaking 
down the stars, and moving mountains and islands 
from their places, not the ignorant only, but the 
philosophic and the learned kings and magnates 
of science and state, and all classes and kinds of 
men together, rush from their dwellings, strike 
for the caverns, cry out like terrified babes, con 
fess to the presence of a Divine Power whose ex- 


istence their superior learning had put down as a 
fable, and with one accord now preach and pro 
claim the advent of a day which they had pro 
nounced impossible! Why this consternation 
this change in their way of regarding and treating 
these advent doctrines this preaching of the 
judgment this trepidation and horror about the 
day of wrath now ? This is not the way they used 
to deal with this subject. There is a mighty shak 
ing indeed; but earthquakes are all from natural 
causes! Rather remarkable eclipses truly; but 
such things are easily explicable on natural prin 
ciples! An extraordinary star-shower; but these 
are innocent periodic things which belong to the 
natural ongoing of the universe ! Unusual storms 
and atmospheric commotions; but they are the 
results of natural causes! Why, then, this dismay 
at the sublime activities of nature, which a philo 
sophic understanding should be able calmly to con 
template and really enjoy? Cowardly fools! shall 
we call them, to break down in the conclusions 
of their superior intelligence, amid such splendid 
opportunities for enjoyable scientific observation? 
Alas, alas, the old superstition is too strong for 
the modern wisdom ! The horror-stricken world 
kings, savans, heroes with strained eyeballs 
and bloodless lips, fall prostrate and confess that 
these beautiful activities of nature and her laws, 
are, after all, somehow linked in with the wrath 
and judgment of God and the Lamb ! 

4. NOT is it so much the physical prodigies, as 
what they argue, that renders the dismay so un~ 

LECTURE XIV. CHAP. 6.12-17. 397 

supportable. If there were nothing but the con 
vulsions of the body of nature, terrific as they are, 
there would be a chance for some to endure them 
without becoming so thoroughly unmanned. But 
the chief consternation arises, not simply from the 
outward facts, but from the unwelcome conclu 
sions which they force upon the soul. The phys 
ical manifestations may be in the line of physical 
laws, and in no way contrary to them ; but whether 
miraculous or not, they are so terrific and Divine, 
that they compel the most atheistic to see in them 
the hands, and arms, and utterances of a Being 
transcendently greater still, and to feel the dem 
onstration in their souls that He has verily risen 
up in the fierceness of just indignation against long 
neglect and defiance of His authority. It is not 
that nature has ceased to be herself, or that the 
principles of her activities have been repealed, 
that overwhelms them, but the resistless proof 
that all her awful potencies, now in such terrific 
motion, are God s direct powers, aroused and in 
flamed with His dreadful anger, and charged as 
heralds and executioners of His almighty wrath. 
It is not the shaking, the obscured sun, the bloody 
moon, the falling stars, the recoiling heavens, the 
moving mountains, so much as the moral truths 
they flash into the spirit, to wit, that God is on 
the throne, that sin ia a reality, that judgment is 
come, and that every guilty one must now face an 
angry Creator. It is not nature s bewildering 
commotions, for they would willingly have the 
falling mountains co^er them, if that would shel- 


ter them from what is much more in their view, 
and far more dreadful to them. What they speak 
of is, God upon the throne, the fear of His face, 
the day of reckoning, and the wrath of the Lamb. 
These are more than all the horrors of a universe 
in convulsions. These are the daggers in their 
hearts the thunderbolts that rend and rive their 
souls the fires that kindle the flames of hell with 
in them. 

5. And how pitiable and absurd the expedients 
to which they are driven ! Many an opportunity 
for prayer had they neglected. Always had they 
contemned such humiliating employment. It did 
not suit their ideas of dignity, or their theories. 
But now they pray, and have a grand concert of 
prayer, in which kings and mighty ones join with 
the meanest and lowest. They had often laughed 
and sneered at praying men; but now they all 
pray. Some prostrate in the dust, some on their 
knees in dens and caves, some clinging to the 
trees, and all shrieking out in unison their terror- 
moved entreaties. O, imbecile people ! When 
prayer would have been availing, they scorned and 
detested it as mean and useless ; and now, that it 
is futile, they go at it with a will. 

Still more absurd is the direction in which they 
address their prayers. Once they considered it 
folly that man should call on the living God; but 
now they pray to dead rocks ! Once they thought 
it philosophic to deny that He who made the ear 
could hear prayers, or that He with whom is the 
Spirit, and whose is the power, could answer 

LECTURE XIV CHAP. 6:12-17. 399 

them; but now they supplicate the deaf and help 
less mountains! 

And yet weaker and more insane is the import 
of their prayers and efforts. Beautifully has the 
Psalmist sung: "Whither shall I go from thy 
Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there. If I 
make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I 
take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the 
uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy 
hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 
If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even 
the night shall be light about me. Yea, the dark 
ness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth 
as the day : the darkness and the light are both 
alike to thee." (Ps. 139 : 7-13.) Omniscience and 
omnipresence are among the natural attributes of 
God. The very things before these people s eyes 
should have been enough to teach them this. And 
yet, philosophers as they are, their proposal is to 
conceal themselves from the Almighty, and so 
elude His wrath ! Often had shelter and peaceful 
security been offered them in the mercies of the 
loving Saviour, and as often had they despised 
and rejected them; but now the silly souls would 
take the miserable rocks for saviours! O, the 
foolishness of men who think it folly to serve 
God! "He that fleeth of them, shall not flee 
away, and he that escapeth of them, shall not be 
delivered. Though they dig into hell," saith the 
Lord, "thence shall mine hand take them; though 
climb up to heaver*, thence will I bring them 


down; and though they hide themselves in the 
top of Carmel, I will search and take them out 
thence." (Amos 9 : 1-3.) 

These kings and mighty ones of the earth had 
highly estimated the terrors of death, and tried to 
restrain and terrify men with fears of them. As 
shown in the preceding seal, they had been perse 
cutors of the saints, and shed their blood to silence 
their testimony. Yet, what they then thought so 
awful, they are now themselves willing and anx 
ious to suffer; yea, and to go down into everlast 
ing nothingness, as a happy alternative to what 
they find coming upon them. " They say to the 
mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide 
us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, 
and from the wrath of the Lamb!" O, miserable 
extremity to which guilt brings men at last! 
There are those whom these judgments shall not 
thus overwhelm. Hid in Jesus, and His shelter 
ing grace, they are secure against all such dismay. 
But "the day of the Lord of Hosts shall be upon 
every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every 
one that is lifted up ; and he shall be brought low." 
(Isa. 2 : 12.) 

Friends and brethren, what a mercy that that 
day is not yet upon us ! There is a Rock to which 
we still may fly and pray, with hope of security in 
its wide-open clefts. It is the Rock of Ages. 
There are mountains to which we may yet betake 
ourselves, and be forever safe from all the dread 
convulsions which await the world. They are the 
mountains of salvation in Christ Jesus. I believe 

LECTURE XIV. OHAP. 6:12-17. 

that I am addressing some who have betaken 
themselves to them. Brethren, " hold fast the 
profession of your faith without wavering ; for He 
is faithful that promised." (Heb. 10 : 23.) But 
others are still lingering in the plains of Sodom, 
who need to take this warning to heart as they 
never yet have done. ye travellers to the judg 
ment, seek ye the Lord while He may be found, 
and call upon Him while He is near! And may 
God in His mercy hide us all from the condemna 
tion that awaits an unbelieving world ! 

Jesus, lover of my* soul, 

Let mo to thy bosom fly ; 
While the billows near me roll, 

While the tempest still is high; 
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide, 

Till the storm of life be past, 
Safe into the haven guide, 

Oh, receive my soul at lastl 

VOL. i. 26 



Rev. 7 : 1-8. (Revised Text.) After thia I saw four angels standing 
over the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, 
that wind might not blow upon the earth, nor upon the sea, nor upon 
any tree. 

And I saw another angel going up from the sun-rising, having a seal 
of the living God ; and he was crying with a great voice to the four 
angels to whom it was given to injure the earth and the sea, saying : 
Injure ye not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, until we have 
sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads. 

And I heard the number of the sealed : a hundred and forty-four 
thousand [were] sealed, out of every tribe of the children [rather, sons] 
of Israel ; out of the tribe of Juda, twelve thousand [were] sealed ; 
out of the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand ; out of the tribe of Gad, 
twelve thousand ; out of the tribe of Aser, twelve thousand ; out of the 
tribe of Nepthalim, twelve thousand ; out of the tribe of Manasses, 
twelve thousand ; out of the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand ; out of 
the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand ; out of the tribe of Issachar, twelve 
thousand ; out of the tribe of Zabulon, twelve thousand ; out of the 
tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand ; out of the tribe of Benjamin, twelve 
thousand [were] sealed. 

words describe the continuation of the 
-*- action and course of events signified by the 
breaking of the sixth seal. It is, therefore, still 


the period of the judgment with which we here 
have to do. But in the midst of wrath, God re 
members mercy. With all the fearful physical 
prodigies which mark the first shock under this 
seal, and the terror and dismay of mankind in 
general in view of those prodigies, the material 
universe remains, the earth continues in its place, 
and gracious operations still go on among its re 
maining populations. Though the heavens and 
the earth are terrifically shaken, and the whole 
system of nature is thrown into commotion, as if 
on the verge of utter ruin, there is a lull in the 
storm ; the angels who have charge of the disturb 
ing blasts are commanded to hold them back for 
a season ; and a scene of calm, and of gracious 
manifestation to certain of the children of men, 
ensues, before the great and terrible day of the 
Lord advances to its meridian. The judgment 
has begun, and has progressed through a number 
of its most important stages, but still Divine com 
passion lingers, grace has not entirely departed, 
and the merciful act of the sealing of the 144,000 
has to be completed before another step in the suc 
cession of judicial wonders can occur. And this 
sealing, it is, which is to occupy our attention this 
evening. We may consider, 


And to this end, may Q-od help us with the illu 
mination and guidance of his Holy Spirit ! 


I. Who, then, are these 144,000 sealed onesf This 
is a vital question, in the right interpretation of 
this part of holy writ. But very conflicting and 
uncertain have been the answers generally given 
to it. Many writers are so perplexed and con 
founded with it, that they scarcely presume to 
answer it, and seek to quiet inquiry by saying 
that the subject is too difficult for man to handle. 
Did people only keep themselves to the plain read 
ing of the words as they are, without subjecting 
them to chemical treatment to bring them into 
affinity with radically false conceptions of the 
Apocalypse, they would save themselves much 
perplexity, and their readers much confusion. 

So long as men will keep thinking of the pres 
ent Church, and the location of these events in the 
past, or in what is now transpiring; just so long 
they will remain bewildered in the fog, and fail to 
find any solid way through these wonderful revela 
tions. If we only take to heart, that, when John 
writes " children of Israel," he means "children of 
Israel" the blood descendants of the patriarch 
Jacob, and that, when he mentions "the tribe of 
Juda," "the tribe of Keuben," " the tribe of Gad, " 
" the tribe of Aser," " the tribe of Kepthalim," " the 
tribe of Manasses," " the tribe of Simeon," " the 
tribe of Levi," "the tribe of Issachar," "the tribe 
of Zabulon," "the tribe of Joseph," and "the tribe 
of Benjamin," he verily means what he says, we 
will at once have the subjects of this apocalyptic 
sealing unmistakably identified. But many are 
so morbidly prejudiced against everything Jewish, 


that it is concluded in advance, that anything mer 
ciful, referring to the Israelitish race, must needs 
be understood some other way than as the words 
are written. Though all the prophets were Jews, 
and Jesus was a Jew, and the writer of this Apo 
calypse was a Jew, and all the Apostles were Jews, 
and salvation itself is of the Jews, and the Jews 
as a distinct people are everywhere spoken of as 
destined to continue to the world s end, it is re 
garded as the next thing to apostasy from the faith, 
to apply anything hopeful, that God has said, to 
this particular race. Though Paul says, that, to 
his u kinsmen according to the flesh," "the prom 
ises " pertain ; that " God hath not cast away His 
people which He foreknew;" "that blindness in 
part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the 
Gentiles be come in," but only " in part," and 
only until then; and that God s unchanging cov 
enant still has something favorable for them in re 
serve; even many otherwise enlightened Chris 
tians become impatient, and will not at all hear 
as, when we presume to pronounce God s own 
word^ as if He really meant what He has said. 

No wonder, therefore, that they cannot find a 
consistent interpretation of a vision of grace which 
is predicated of Jacob s literal seed, in contradis 
tinction from all others. Nor is there a vice or 
device of sacred hermeneutics, which so beclouds 
the Scriptures, and so unsettles the faith of men, 
as this constant attempt to read Church for Israel, 
and Christian peoples for Jewish tribes. As I 
read the Bible, when God says " children of Israel," 


I do not understand Him to mean any but people 
of Jewish blood, be they Christians or not ; and 
when He speaks of the twelve tribes of the sons 
of Jacob, and gives the names of the tribes, it is 
impossible for me to believe that He means the 
Gentiles, in any sense or degree, whether they be 
believers or not. And this would seem to be so 
plain and self-evident a rule of interpretation, that 
I can conceive of no legitimate variation from it, 
except in such case as the Holy Q-host Himself 
may explain to the contrary. 

There is a sense in which a man may be a Jew 
outwardly, and yet not be one according to the 
spiritual calling of the Jews; and there is a sense 
in which even Gentiles, if they be true believers, 
are "Abraham s seed;" but I know of no in stance 
in which the descendants of the twelve tribes of 
Israel include the Gentiles, or in which, what ie 
discoursed specifically of persons out of the tribes 
of Juda, Reuben, Gad, Aser, Kepthalim, Manasses, 
Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, and Ben 
jamin, is to be understood only of "the blessed 
company of all faithful people, gathered together 
from all parts of the world, and constituting the 
Church universal." Above all, would such a way 
vf interpreting the Scriptures be out of place in a 
book in which more is said about "the church," 
strictly as such, than in any other sacred book, and 
in which it is particularly shown that the Church s 
judgment has begun, and to a large extent already 
gone into effect, before what is thus written of the 
tribes of the sons of Jacob takes place. 

LKCTURB XV. CHAP. 7:1-8. 4Q7 

It is also to be remembered, that the crowned 
Elders and the Living ones are a purl, and a very 
conspicuous part, of " the glorified company of the 
whole Church;" yet, in chap. 14:3, they appear 
in connection with the 144,000, but as a wholly 
distinct body. The sealed ones are one company, 
complete in itself; and the Elders and Living ones 
are another company complete in itself. John 
beholds them both at the same time, the one in 
the presence of the other, but each with its own 
separate place, character, and blessedness. The 
144,000 therefore can by no possibility " represent 
the glorified company of the whole church." There 
is no proof that they represent any body but them 
selves, or that they are at all a part of the Church, 
properly so called. Everything shows that they 
are a class of the saved, separate and distinct from 
all others. 

They are also described &s being " the first fruit* 
unto God and the Lamb." But they cannot be 
the first fruits of all saints; for the Elders and 
Living ones are glorified, and have received theii 
golden crowns, before these 144,000 have even been 
sealed on earth. They must therefore be the first 
fruits of another calling and order, after the present 
period of the Church, strictly so called, has run its 

And when we take along with us the apostolic 
commentary upon the ancient covenants, to wit : 
that, after the fulness of the Gentiles is come u^ 
the scales are to drop from the eyes of Israel s 
blinded descendants, and a fresh current of salva- 


tion is to set in towards them: the argument seem* 
to me conclusive and overwhelming, that these 
144,000 are just what John says they are Jews, 
descendants of the sons of Israel the first fruits 
of that new return of God to deal mercifully with 
the children of His ancient people for their father s 

If we look a little further on in the chapter, we 
find another company described, whose nationali 
ties are also distinctly given. They are " out of 
every nation, and [of all] tribes, and peoples, and 
tongues." Literal nationalities are therefore an 
important element in the whole chapter. And as 
those said to be out of all nations, tribes, peoples, 
and tongues cannot be Jews only, so those said to 
be out of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel 
cannot be Jews and Gentiles indiscriminately. 

Borne have inferred the necessity of taking these 
Jewish tribes in a mystic sense, from the omission 
of the names of Dan and Ephraim, and the sub 
stitution of the names of Levi and Joseph in their 
stead. But these are circumstances from which I 
infer the exact contrary. If it were the common 
body of all believers that is meant, the proper 
symbol would be the complement of the common 
twelve tribes, as historically known. But here is 
a new enumeration, and quite a different order 
developed, BO far as respects this sealing. It is, 
therefore, a new and original thing to itself, in 
which one of the historical tribes appears to be 
omitted altogether, and a double number taken 
out of another. Besides, if we are to take these 

LECTURE XV. CHAP. 7:1-8. 4Q9 

tribes mystically of the whole Church, it is impos 
sible to find anything to correspond to it in all the 
history of the Church, past, present, or to come. 
On that theory, the vision has never been and 
cannot be explained. Hence, we are driven back 
upon the literal sense, which was the accepted 
sense in the time of Irenseus, and which intro 
duces no such embarrassing difficulty. The tribes 
mentioned by name, are the tribes meant. So, at 
any rate, I read the sacred account ; and if I err, I 
err with "many," and err on the side of the most 
direct and plainest sense of the word, as God has 
caused it to be written. Nor have I ever yet seen 
the argument for any other acceptation, which does 
not seem to me to torture and browbeat all the 
records that bear upon the case, set aside all safe 
laws of exegesis, and bring the whole Apocalypse 
into inextricable confusion.* 

But these 144,000 are not simply Jews, for there 
are many of Jewish blood, and even of the saved 
among them, who are not of this number. They 
are Jews of a particular class, singled out from the 
Israelitish populations on account of spiritual at 
tainments and character not found in the rest. 
They are not only descendants of the Hebrew 

* Alford remarks on the passage: "By many, and even by 
the most recent commentator, Dusterdieck, these sealed ones 
are taken to represent Jewish believers ; the chosen out of the 
actual children of Israel." Among these we may note Irenwus, 
Bullinger, Grotius, Bossuet, Bengel, Eichorn, Heinnr-hs, Mait- 
land, Zullig, Hoffman, B. W. Newtton, Kelly, >ea, 

and others. 


patriarchs, living in the time of the judgment, but 
such of those descendants as shall then correspond 
in their characteristics to the signification of the 
several tribal names by which they are designated. 

In Genesis 5, we have the names of the ante 
diluvian patriarchs, from Adam to Toah. In the 
meaning of those names, taken in the order in 
which they stand, we have a singular epitome of 
the history of the race, and of the principal teach 
ings of holy Scripture from first to last. Taking 
these tribal names of the 144,000 in the same way, 
we also find a very striking indication of their per 
sonal character, on the ground of which their pe 
culiar honors are based. All Jewish names are sig 
nificant, and the meaning of those which here are 
given, is not hard to trace. Juda means confession 
or praise of God; Reuben, viewing the Son; Gad, a 
company ; Aser, blessed; Nepthalim, a wrestler or 
striving with ; M&TL&SSQS, forgetfulness ; Simeon, hear 
ing and obeying; luievi, joining or cleaving to; Issachar, 
reward, or what is given by way of reward; Zabulon, 
a home or dwelling-place; Joseph, added or an addi 
tion; Benjamin, a son of the right /land, a son of old 
age. Now put these several things together in 
their order, and we have described to us : Con 
fessors or praisers of God, looking upon the Son, 
a band of blessed ones, wrestling with forgetful- 
ness, hearing and obeying the word, cleaving unto 
the reward of a shelter and home, an addition, 
sons of the day of God s right hand, begotten in 
the extremity of the age. 

This certainly is very remarkable, and cannot 


be taken as mere accident, particularly as the 
order of the names, and some of the names them 
selves, are changed from the enumerations of the 
twelve tribes found in other places. The same 
will also account for the omission of the names of 
Dan and Ephraim, and the substitution of the 
names of Levi and Joseph in their stead. Those 
names are not of the right import to describe these 
144,000. Dan means judging , or the exercise of judi 
cial prerogatives; but these 144,000 are not judges, 
and never become such. Ephraim means increase, 
growth by multiplication; but these 144,000 are a 
fixed company, with none of the aame class going 
before them, and none of the same class ever to 
come after them. The idea of increase or multi 
plication is altogether foreign to them. "They 
are virgins." These names are therefore unsuit 
able, and are superseded by others better adapted 
to describe, the parties to whom they are applied. 
These 144,000, then, are Israelites, living in the 
period of the judgment, who are only then brought 
to be confessors and praisers of God, whilst the 
most of their kindred continue in unbelief and re 
bellion. Viewing the Son, as their fathers never 
would view Him, they acknowledge Him as their 
Messiah and Judge. As Jews, they thus consti 
tute a distinct company to themselves, and are 
blessed. As the result of their conversion, they 
are also very active in practical righteousness. 
They strive and wrestle against their own and 
their nation s long obliviousness to the truth as it 
is in Jesus, hearing and obeying now the voice of 


the Lord, cleaving unto the shelter and heaven/y 
home promised by the prophets as the portion of 
those who call upon the name of the Lord even 
at that late hour. They are not of the Church 
proper; for their repentance comes too late for 
that. They are a superaddition to the Church a 
supplementary body near and precious to Christ, 
but made up after the proper Church has finished 
its course. As Paul in his apostleship was like 
one born out of due time, so they are in the posi 
tion of children belated in their birth ; sons of 
God indeed, and destined to follow the Lamb 
whithersoever He goeth; but sons begotten in the 
day of God s right hand, in the period of His 
power and judgment, in the last extremity of this 
age. All this comes out naturally and distinctly, 
without the least straining of a single word. 

As to the number of this company, there could 
not be a clearer or more definite announcement 
than that which is given. John says: " I heard the 
number of the sealed : a hundred and forty-four thou 
sand" twelve thousand out of each of the twelve 
tribes named, twelve times twelve, not a unit 
more, nor a unit less. 

Owing to the fact that most of our expositors 
suppose this company to embrace all the saved of 
all the natural children of Jacob, or the whole 
Israel of God both Jewish and Gentile, they have 
generally taken these numbers as mystical a defi 
nite number for an indefinite. Unwilling to be 
lieve, as they well might be, that only 144,000 of 
all the children of men, or of all the children of 


Abraham, are finally saved, they propose to under 
stand a much greater number than the figures 
give. But such views of this body of sealed ones 
are thoroughly erroneous. These 144,000 are not 
all the saved, either from among the Jews and 
Gentiles together, or from among the Jews alone. 
They are a particular class of the saved, gathered, 
up from among the seed of Jacob in and during 
the period of the Judgment. And with this made 
out, as I think it is most conclusively, every reason 
for taking these numbers in any but a literal sense 
entirely disappears. John heard the number of 
them announced as twelve times twelve thousand ; 
and I know not by what right they are to be ac 
counted any more or any less. 

II. We come, then, to inquire into the nature of 
the sealing of which these 144,000 are the subjects. 

1. It is manifest that the transaction takes place 
on earth, and in the case of people contemporane 
ously living in the flesh. It does not run co-ordi 
nately with the entire Christian dispensation, for 
it only begins after the Judgment has begun, and 
has progressed beyond the opening of the sixth 
seal. It is also completed and finished before the 
opening of the seventh seal : for the opening of 
the seventh seal, with its trumpets and vials, is 
the letting loose of the four hurtful blasts which 
are commanded to be held back until the sealing 
is done. Under the sounding of the fifth trumpet 
particularly, we find these sealed ones living and 
noving among those upon whom the plague falls, 


and exempted from it by reason of their having 
been sealed. The sealing has therefore been 
finished before that time. 

2. This sealing involved the impartation of a 
conspicuous and observable mark. A sealing is 
necessarily a marking of some sort. It is a com 
mon thing in God s administrations to have some 
fixed and understood token by which His people 
are distinguished. Under the Old Testament He 
set a visible mark in the flesh of His chosen. 
When He visited Egypt with death, He exempted 
the children of Israel by a mark which He com 
manded to be put upon their dwellings. When 
Jericho fell, He saved Rahab by the mark of the 
scarlet line which she was directed to bind about 
her window. Antichrist, in his mimicry of Christ, 
causes a mark to be put upon the right hand or 
forehead of his people, and will not permit any 
one to buy or sell who has not the mark. And 
we hence infer, that this sealing also involves the 
impressment of some manifest sign upon those 
who are the subjects of it. 

Ezekiel describes a similar transaction, under 
similar circumstances, in which reference may be 
to precisely the same thing beheld in this vision, 
In the one case the executioners of vengeance ap 
pear with slaughter weapons in their hands, in 
place of the four angels with their hurtful blasts 
in this instance. But in that description also, a 
single sealer appears, who is sent out before the 
slaughterers, to "set a mark upon the foreheads 
of the men that sigh and that cry for the abomina- 

LICTUKB XV. CHAP. 7:1-8. 415 

tions," on account of which judgment impends. 
That mark was to be a visible means of identifying 
those who receive it, and of securing their safety 
in the midst of general destruction. And so these 
144,000 have impressed upon them some manifest 
token, at least as conspicuous and prominent as a 
physical inscription upon their foreheads, if not, 
indeed, a physical mark. It is described as a seal 
ing "in their foreheads," and as the "Father s 
name written in their foreheads." (Eev. 9:4; 14 : 
1). and it cannot be otherwise than something par 
ticularly distinguishing. 

3. It is something Divine. The seal with which 
the sealing is done, is "a seal of the living God." 
The affixing of a seal of God can only be by Di 
vine authority and appointment. It is so intensely 
an official act, and connects so fully with the direct 
administrations and government of God, that it 
must needs be done by the hand or ordination of 
the Almighty himself. It so pledges Him, and to 
Him, that it must be regarded as His own act. 

4. The offi.ce of this sealing is in the hands of 
an Angel, who comes forth from the sun-rising. 
He is a high officer of God. He carries a seal 
of the miracle-working God, and He gives com 
mands to the angels of judgment. Many take 
Him to be the Lord Jesus himself. There is much 
to sustain this view. The star which heralded His 
nativity came from the East. He is himself called 
" the bright and morning star." Ezekiel beheld 
the Shekinah returning to the deserted temple 
from the East His second coming is referred to 


as the lightning which shines from the East ever, 
unto the West. The promise to the Jews with 
reference to the judgment time is: "Unto you 
that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness 
arise; " which involves a going up from the East. 
And He is the sender of the Holy Ghost. With 
these representations the vision of this Angel well 
harmonizes. We may, therefore, readily regard 
this Sealer as verily the Jehovah- Angel, even the 
Lord Jesus Christ himself, who comes forth, in 
visibly it may be, for the sealing of the 144,000. 
That, He appears as an Angel, that He speaks of 
God as his God, and that He alludes to the sealing 
as if other agencies were associated with Him in 
the work, does not at all interfere with this con 
clusion. Like language is found in the lips of 
Jesus in other portions of the Scriptures; and 
one of His most characteristic titles represents 
Him as the Messenger from God the Angel of 
the Lord. He is here also very particularly dis 
tinguished from, and assigned an authority over, 
the four angels of judgment. It really does not 
alter the character of the matter whether this 
Sealer from the sun-rising be Christ in person or 
not. It is, at any rate, a high officer of God who 
has charge of the work ; and what he does pro 
ceeds from Christ s mediatorial achievements. 

6. This sealing was moreover a moral, and not 
a mere arbitrary or external thing. Those who 
receive it are described as " the servants of our 
God," as contradistinguished from other classes 
of men. And from what is said of them in the 

LECTURE XV. CHAP. 7:l-. 417 

fourteenth chapter, they are very eminently and 
very peculiarly God s servants. They are there 
described as having been entirely free from the 
adulterous and idolatrous defilements of mankind 
in general. " In their mouth was found no guile." 
And they finally come up faultless before the 
throne. The whole spirit of the record shows, 
that this their extraordinary sealing is connected 
with, and based upon, their extraordinary spiritual 
characteristics. This was also the case in the 
parallel instance in the ninth of Ezekiel. It was 
the men who sighed and who cried for the abom 
inations that were done, upon whom the mark 
was set. And it is the common law of the Divine 
proceedings, that His special honors are never 
otherwise conferred than in connection with spe 
cial dutifulness and fidelity under very special 
trials and difficulties. Every branch that bringeth 
forth fruit he purgeth, that it may bring forth more 
fruit ; and he who doth not profit by the talents 
bestowed, from him shall be taken away even that 
which he hath. These were people who had hum 
bled themselves under the mighty hand of God. 
They had learned rightly to interpret the signs 
of judgment enacting about them in the heavens 
above and in the earth beneath. They had learned, 
and effectually taken to heart, the true charac 
ter of the times in which they were living, what 
God was doing in their day, and what place they 
occupied in the ongoing of the Divine purposes. 
And the fruit of all was a vigor of faith, con 
fession, and holy consecration seldom attained 
VOL. i. 27 


among the children of men. All their idolatries, 
and sensualities, and unbeliefs, they had most 
solemnly abjured. They had now given up to 
know nothing but God and His service, in the 
most unfaltering trust in tha,t Lion of the tribe of 
Judah under whose wondrous power tbe whole 
earth wa x s trembling and smarting, as if in the 
agonies of dissolution. And because of this thor 
ough spiritual transformation, and their holy sigh 
ing and crying for the abominations that cover the 
world, "the Angel of the covenant" comes up 
from the quarter of grace to honor their devotions, 
and to set apart and seal them for a peculiar des 
tiny of favor and exaltation. 

6. And from this we are enabled to get a still 
deeper glance into the nature of this peculiar 
sealing. The seal of God is the Spirit of God, 
particularly in His more unusual gifts. Thus 
Christ himself was sealed by the Father, when the 
Holy Ghost descended upon Him from heaven, 
marking Him out, and endowing Him for His 
wonderful career. (John 6 : 27.) Thus, also, Paul 
wrote to the Ephesians (1 : 13) : " After that ye 
believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of 
promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance; 7 
and besought them : " Grieve not the holy Spirit 
of God, whereby ye are staled, unto the day of 
redemption." (Eph. 4 : 30 ; also, 2 Cor, 1 : 22.) 
We may, therefore, conceive of this sealing of the 
144,000 as a special and extraordinary irnpartation 
of the Holy Ghost; which again connects this 
vision with particular Old Testament promises. 

LECTURE XV. CHAP. 7:1-8. 419 

By the mouth of Joel, the Lord said to Israel : 
" I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." This 
was indeed a general promise, but with it was 
coupled another, which is not so general, but par 
ticularly to Israel: "And your sons and your 
daughters [0 Jews] shall prophesy, your old men 
shall dream dreams, your young men shall see 
visions : and also upon the servants and upon the 
handmaidens in those days will I pour out my 
Spirit." Peter tells us that this began to be ful 
filled in the miracle of Pentecost; but the fulfil 
ment did not end there. There are also particulars 
in the passage which were not fulfilled upon the 
primitive Church particulars which refer to the 
judgment times, and connect directly with the 
scenes to which this sealing of the 144,000 is re 
lated. "Wonders in heaven and earth, blood, 
and fire, and pillars of smoke/ are spoken of; 
and the turning of the sun into darkness, and the 
moon into blood ; and all, directly on the eve of 
" the great and terrible day of the Lord." In this 
we distinctly recognize the occurrences under the 
red horseman of the second seal, the physical 
prodigies of the sixth seal, and the exact mani 
festations under the first and fifth trumpets. And 
in connection with these wonders, "Whosoever 
shall call on the name of the Lord shall be de 
livered ; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall 
be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the 
remnant whom the Lord shall call." (Joel 2: 28- 
32.) Pre-eminent among this " remnant" are these 
144,000. In them, therefore, is fulfilled above all 


what is foreshown of mercy and grace thus mixed 
up with the terrors of the judgment. They are 
the sone and daughters of the people whom the 
prophet addressed. They are the ones who, above 
others of their time, call upon the name of the 
Lord. They are related to Mount Zion and Jeru 
salem as none of the Gentiles are. And it is not 
too much to say, that their peculiar sealing at least 
embraces this self-same miraculous endowment 
with the Spirit of God, which is so often referred 
to as the seal of God. They shall be made to 
dream God-begotten dreams, and to see God- 
shown visions. The Pentecostal Baptism from 
heaven shall be renewed in them with its original 
vigor. All the fruits and manifestations of the 
Holy Ghost, which characterized the apostles and 
early Christians at the beginning, shall reappear 
in them, perhaps with augmented power. And 
whether particular ceremonies connect with the 
thing or not, this is the chief element and essence 
of this sealing with " a seal of the living God." 
At any rate, those sealed, by virtue of their seal 
ing, have the Father s name in them ; and so in 
them, as to mark and distinguish them as though 
a visible inscription stood written upon their fore 
heads. And those who are so eminently and 
peculiarly the bearers of the Father s name, must 
needs be partakers, in very extraordinary degree, 
of the gifts and powers of the Holy Ghost. Be 
sides, the title of "the living God" is seldom, if 
ever, used except in connection with some display 
of His power in the sphere of the miraculous. 

LECTURE XV. CHAP. 7:1-8. 421 

7. Very various and diverse, hence would also 
be, the outward manifestations of this mark. It 
would show itself in the doctrines professed by 
the sealed ones, in the power with which they 
announce and defend them, perhaps in miraculous 
works wrought in proof of them, in a particularly 
holy, prayerful, and self-denying life, in a bravery 
and fearlessness before gainsay ers which no earthly 
powers can daunt, and in a wisdom and heavenli- 
ness of demeanor, making them appear like beings 
from another world, and lighting up their very 
faces, perhaps, like the face of Moses when he 
came down from the mount, or like the face of 
Stephen in the midst of his murderers. 

III. "We come, now, to the intent and effect of 
this marvellous sealing. 

It is agreed, on all hands, that it is a merciful 
and gracious act. Its first effect is to stay the 
blasts of judgment, and to produce a lull in the 
work of vengeance. Four angels, stationed over 
the earth at the four points of the compass, have 
already received power to hurt the earth and the 
sea. These four agents seem to be the same that 
act in connection with the first four trumpets, 
under which the whole system of the world is 
so fiercely smitten. Hail and fire, mingled with 
blood, there fall upon the earth, and the third 
part of what grows in the fields is destroyed. A 
great burning mountain is cast into the sea, and 
a burning star upon the rivers and fountains, 
turning the waters into blood or bitterness, and 


making havoc with all forms of life, both in the 
deep and on the land. Portentous and afflictive 
manifestations are also wrought in sun, moon, 
and stars. All these would seem to be, at least 
included in, the blasts with which these four 
angels had received power to blow upon the earth, 
the sea, and the trees. But the sealing Angel, 
with a great voice, commands them to hold back 
their blasts, until these servants of God are sealed. 
And so it is ever. God s people are the salt of 
the earth. But for them, and God s gracious pur 
poses toward them, judgment and ruin would 
instantly break over the globe. It is only for the 
elect s sake that the world stands, that the sun 
shines, that the fields yield their increase, and 
that men s greatest blessings are not at once turned 
into curses. It is only because God has his ser 
vants in the world, and saints preparing for glory, 
and children among earth s populations who sigh 
and cry for the abominations that are done, that 
the chariots of destruction do not rush over all 
that is. Governments stand, society exists, the 
waters flow, the trees live, the sea retains its salu 
brity, the grasses grow upon the earth, and the 
death-blasts of the destroying angels are restrained, 
only because the Lord is engaged taking out from 
among the nations a people for His name, the 
number of which must first be made up. Ten 
righteous persons in Sodom would have put off 
the ruin of that sink of sin ; and even when the 
terrific scenes of the great day have begun, and 
advanced to the very margin of their culmination, 

LECTURE XV. CHAP. 7:1-8 423 

the whole process is made to delay till the 144,000 
servants of God are sealed. O the compassion and 
forbearance of Jehovah, and the intensity of His 
faithfulness to them that call upon Him ! Nor do 
the proud and haughty ones of this world begin 
to comprehend, neither can it be measured, how 
much they owe to those meek children of obscu 
rity, whose faith, devotions, and concern about 
the judgment, they so often ridicule, and so much 

But this sealing was more particularly for the 
comfort, assurance, and security of the sealed ones 
themselves. In the parallel passages in Ezekiel 
and Joel, the preservation of the marked ones, and 
the deliverance of those who call upon the name 
of the Lord, are specifically asserted. Here also, 
in the general commission of the agents of de 
struction and torment against men in general, 
there is a reservation in favor of those who have 
the seal of God in their foreheads. (Chap. 9 : 4.) 
The nature of the sealing itself is such as to fore 
warn and empower those who receive it against 
the impending evils. The restraint upon the blasts 
until this sealing is completed, also shows a rela 
tion of this sealing to those blasts, implying se- 
curement against them. And all such Divine 
markings in every other case had protection and 
deliverance for their object. It was so in the case 
of the children of Israel in Egypt. It was so in 
the case of Rahab. And it is BO in the case of 
Baptism now. Hence, as remarked by Words 
worth, "this action of sealing with the seal or 


signet of God, is equivalent to a declaration, that 
they, who are BO sealed, appertain to God, and are 
distinguished as such from others who do not thus 
belong to Him, and are assured by Him of His 
protection against all evil." As the gift of the 
Holy Ghost certified and assured the apostles, of 
the Divinity of the cause they had espoused, of 
their acceptance as God s acknowledged ambassa 
dors, of the certain fulfilment unto them of all that 
their Lord had promised, and of their everlasting 
^ife, triumph, and glory, no matter what men might 
do unto them, or what might happen ; so this seal 
ing with the seal of the living God certified and 
assured these 144,000 of the unmistakable charac 
ter of their faith, of their election as a first fruits 
of incoming new administrations, and guaranteed 
unto them, not only security amid the blasts of 
heightening judgment upon earth, but also a pe 
culiar and blessed portion with Jesus in His glory. 
And as the Baptism of the Spirit secured the safety 
of the primitive Christians when Jerusalem was 
overwhelmed, so this sealing secures the safety of 
the sealed ones as the judgment of the great day 
goes over the nations. They trust in the Lord, 
and wait patiently for Him; and the Psalmist s 
words are fulfilled unto them : " When the wicked 
are cut off, thou shalt see it." 

From this, then, we see, that God is not yet 
done with the Jews. Their national restoration 
is not necessarily involved in this text; though 
such a restoration in advance of this sealing, would 

LECTURE XV. CHAP 7:1-8. 425 

admirably agree with the vision, and with other 
predictions relating to the same transactions. But 
it is involved, that the Jews shall remain a distinct 
people upon earth up to the day of judgment; and 
that, before the final consummation, God will again 
turn Himself toward them, and begin to deal with 
them once more in mercy, as in the days that He 
brought them up out of the land of Egypt. Edom, 
and those who disbelieve with Edom in Jacob s 
birthright, may sneeringly ask : " Watchman , what 
of the night?" But, there is a morning coming. 
A stormy morning it may be ; but a morning never 
theless, and not without its sunshine and its rays 
of blessing. They err who tell us that all God s 
promises to Israel as a race are dead, never again 
to be revived. The Giver of them does not so 
speak. His inspired Apostle, even after Jeru 
salem had fallen, wrote, with regard to this very 
subject, that " the gifts and calling of God are with 
out repentance;" and that for the self-same Israel 
which has fallen, and been cast down, and broken 
off, there is a coming fulness, recovery, and graft 
ing in again, when the Deliverer shall come. (See 
Rom. 11.) And the visible pledge of something 
special yet in reserve for this marvellous race, is 
written in all their history, from the fall of Jeru 
salem to this hour. Else why the unparalleled 
preservation of this people, with such unwaning 
and ever-active life-energy, " against such over 
whelming odds, through the storms of so many 
centuries, the vicissitudes and perils of so many 
generations, and amid the wrecks of so many 


buried empires?" Else why that undying pre* 
sentiment, which throbs in the universal Jewish 
heart, and which no adversity can quench or pros 
perity entirely charm into quiet, of some future 
return to the high estate of their fathers ? The 
very land itself, in its perpetual refusal to give 
peaceful and secure home to any of the Gentiles 
who have overrun it, throughout all its sad desola 
tions, gives out its plaints and prayers that Jehovah 
would not forget his covenant with the house of 
Israel, and utters from every hill and valley, shore 
and sea, the prophecy of some future of hope and 
blessing which cannot be delayed forever. What 
that hope is, we need not here inquire. But 
linked in with it is the sealing of 144,000 out 
of the twelve tribes of the children of Jacob, to 
stand as God s servants and witnesses upon earth 
amid the ongoings of the judgment, and finally to 
take their places with the Lamb on the Mount 
Zion, amid the Halleluias and harpings of heaven, 
and to sing there a song, never sung before, and 
never to be sung by any but themselves. 

Friends and brethren, it is not for us to be a part 
of this 144,000. But we have our calling also, and 
a much superior one. The Jehovah Angel from 
the sun-rising is even now at work throughout the 
world, marking and sealing men for kinghoods and 
priesthoods far sublimer than all the honors of 
these 144,000. His proposal is made alike to all, 
whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, bond or 
free: and that proposal is, by His word, sacra- 

LECTURE XV. CHAP. 7:1-8. 427 

ments and Spirit, to set a seal upon each of us, not 
only for our safety in the day of judgment, but for 
our admission into the royalties of heavenly em 
pire. And it is only to allow time for the making 
up of the full number to reign with Him. forever, 
that the blasts of vengeance are restrained, and 
the day of judgment tarries. Child of Adam, hast 
thou, then, the mark ? Hast thou been set apart to 
God, and sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise ? 

I am addressing some who hope they have the 
seal of God. Baptized into His name, enrolled 
among His professing people, communing punctu 
ally at His table, lifting oft their hearts and voices 
unto Him as their stay and strength amid earth s 
trials, believing with all their soul in Jesus as their 
salvation, and with the desire ever burning in their 
breasts to be found of Him in peace, they promise 
well to be among the first-born in heaven. But, 
" Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest 
he fall." (1 Cor. 10 : 12.) No one of us is out of 
danger yet ; and the word of the Master is : "Hold 
fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy 
crown." (Rev. 3 : 11.) 

But I am addressing others who have forfeited 
their right to any such hope. Though baptized, 
it is the same as if they had not been, except 
that they have vows upon them which they do not 
fulfil. Though outwardly grafted into the Church, 
no life-connection has been formed, and to-night 
they are mere dead branches, leafless, fruitless, un 
sightly, and ready for the burning. They are wit 
nesses against themselves that they have chosen 


them the Lord to serve Him ; but they have not 
done it. O ye backsliding children, remember 
whence ye are fallen, and repent, and do the first 
works, lest your Lord come in an hour when ye 
think not, and assign you place with hypocrites 
and unbelievers. Though you may never have 
run to the same excess of riot with many around 
you, if you have lived forgetful and neglectful of 
God and duty, it would be blasphemy for you to 
say that you are ready for the judgment. Up, 
then, and be doing; for your opportunities will 
soon be past. 

And yet others are listening to me who have 
not so much as been baptized ; whose names are 
nowhere on the records of the pious ; who have 
hitherto been living without God and without 
hope in the world; and who are conscious that no 
saving mark is on their foreheads. Prayerless 
and careless, they have passed the precious hours 
in which they might have become the sons of God, 
and are to-night on the road to everlasting death. 
O sinful, self-deceiving mortal, to thee, once more, 
is the word of this salvation sent ! 

Jesus ready stands to save thee, 
Pull of pity joined with power. 

With the seal of the living God in hand, He waits 
consent to stamp its saving impress on thy brow. 
Ask, and it shall be given ; seek, and thou shalt 
find. But let not another day or hour be lost, lest 
there should be no more hope for thee. 



RBV. 7 : 9-17. (Revised Text.) After these things I aaw, and be 
hold, a great multitude which no one could number, out of every na 
tion, and [of all] tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the 
throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm-branches 
in their hands ; and they cry with a great voice, Baying, The salvation 
[be ascribed] to our God who gitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb. 
And all the angels were standing around the throne, and the elders, 
and the four living ones, and they fell before the throne on their faoea 
and worshipped God, saying, Amen, the blessing, and the glory, and 
the wisdom, and the thanksgiving, and the honor, and the power, and 
the might, be to our God unto the ages of the ages. Amen. 

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are ar 
rayed in the white robes, who are they ? and whence came they ? And 
I said unto him, My lord, thou knowest. And he said (to me), These 
are they that come out of the tribulation, the great [one] ; and they 
have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the 
Lamb. On this account they are before the throne of God, and serve 
him day and night in his temple ; and he that sitteth on the throne 
[Codex Sinaiticus: knawt them] shall tabernacle over them. They 
shall not hunger any more, nor yet thirst any more ; neither shall the 
un light OB them, no nor any scorching heat : because the Lamb which 

( 429 ) 


is in the midst of the throne is their shepherd, and shall lead them U 
fountains of waters of life, and God shall wipe awaj every tear oat f 
their eyes. 

FTIHREE visions are embraced in the results of 
the breaking of the sixth seal : first, the pro 
digious commotions which fill the world with con 
sternation; second, the sealing of the 144,000; 
and here, the multitude of palm-bearers before 
the throne. The first two of this particular se 
ries relate to the earth and to people in the flesh; 
the one which we are now to consider relates to 
heaven and to people in heaven. What it presents 
is subsequent in time, both to the great shaking 
and the gracious sealing. The great and terrible 
Day of the Lord is not one ordinary day of twelve 
or twenty-four hours. All these seals, and the va 
ried occurrences under them, belong to that day ; 
but it is very manifest that each of them covers 
a continuous period of months and years. The 
vision now before us refers to one section in a se 
ries of successive judicial wonders. 

The rapt apostle is in heaven. He was called 
thither at a very early stage of these successive 
visions, and from thence he contemplates all that 
he narrates after the beginning of the fourth chap 
ter. It was from heaven that he beheld the shak 
ing and the sealing ; and from the same point of 
observation he sees this company of palm-bearers. 
They stand before the throne, and before the 
Lamb. They shout and praise God for their re 
demption. The angels form a grand circle around 
them ; the throne, with the Living ones and the 

LECTURE XVL CHAP. 7:*-17. 431 

Elders, as described in the fourth chapter, being 
in the centre. They are arrayed in bright robes, 
are acknowledged as servants of God, and pro 
nounced forever free from tribulation, and from 
whatever might distress them or interfere with 
their blessedness. 

The picture would seem to be a very plain one, 
and one easy to be understood. There was also 
such a particular announcement of the history and 
character of the multitude in view, that there 
would appear to be no room for difficulty in this 
regard. And yet, on all the prevalent systems 
of Apocalyptic interpretation, the question of the 
Elder: " Who are they f and whence came they ?" is 
still the great question to be decided. Indeed, 
there is scarcely one point with reference to these 
palrn-bearers upon which expositors are agreed. 
It is generally acknowledged that they are, or rep 
resent, children of men, who had a deal of trouble 
in their day, and are some way related to the fam 
ily of the redeemed ; but whether people in the 
flesh on earth, or disembodied spirits in the inter 
mediate state, or risen and glorified saints in their 
heavenly home, is matter of mere dreamy opinion, 
indifferently debated, and in no way settled. And 
from what I have seen upon the subject, I would 
take it as a crucial point to try the consistency of 
any proposed method of interpreting the Apoca 
lypse, whether it has capacity satisfactorily to dis 
pose of this palm-bearing multitude. 

Some have taken these palm-bearers to be the 
early Christians, victorious over the sorrows and 


persecutions which afflicted the Church in the first 
ages. Others see in them a symbol of the pros 
perity which came to the Church by the conversion 
of the Emperor Constantine ; or of the vast acces 
sions which were made to the Church under his 
and subsequent reigns ; or of the exalted and happy 
state of the Church in a fancied millennium yet 
to be realized in this world. Others take these 
palm-bearers to be the spirits of the redeemed, 
anterior to the resurrection ; others, the 144,000 
sealed ones of the preceding vision, exalted to their 
final glory; others, the whole body of the Church 
of all ages ; others, the Church of the Gentiles ; 
some the Church on earth ; some the Church in 
resurrection glory; some the Church in some cere 
mony of recognition by Christ in heaven; and 
some a mere poetic adumbration of victory for 
the Gospel, without definite significance or appli 
cation. A greater chaos of opinions and fancies 
is scarcely to be found on any other distinct sub 
ject presented in the Scriptures, than that which 
exists upon this. There is no alternative, there 
fore, if we would at all ascertain the truth, but 
to go back to first principles, and find out some 
method of explaining this whole Book, which will 
take in these palm-bearers, in the place at which 
they appear, in harmony with all the statements 
given concerning them, and with all that goes be 
fore and follows after. 

On the plain and simple principles upon which 
we have conducted this exposition thus far, we 
cannot well fail to reach results of a definite and 

LECTUKE XVI. CHAP. 7:9-17. 433 

solid character, needing no far-fetched and doubt 
ful substructure to bring us to them, and so direct 
that the plainest understanding may judge of their 
worthiness to be accepted as the real truth meant 
to be set forth. 

It is sometimes profitable to consider questions 
negatively. It serves to narrow the inquiry, and 
to free and clear the subject for more direct solu 
tion and settlement. And this method seems to 
be called for in this case. In order, therefore, to 
decide rightly who these palm-bearers are, I will 
first show who they are not. 

1. Evidently they are not the first and highest 
class of redeemed men. As we have seen in the 
fourth and fifth chapters, there is a body of ran 
somed ones, glorified, crowned, and promoted to 
pre-eminent dignity in heaven, where the apostle 
beheld and heard them before the book was taken, 
and hence in advance of all the judgment plagues 
developed under the seals. These are the Elders 
and the Living ones, redeemed out of every kin 
dred, and tongue, and people, and nation the 
seniors in glory, and highest of all the saints 
crowned with golden crowns, and related to the 
throne as none others. No sooner had John seen 
the judgment throne set, than he also saw other 
thrones around it, and these princely Elders seated 
on them, ready to take part in the solemn adjudi 
cations about to be visited upon the earth ; and 
also Living ones conjoined with the throne, and 
sharing in the administration of its decrees. These 
same Elders and Living ones appear again in the 
VOL. i. 28 


vision before us, occupying the same nearness to 
the throne and the same royal dignity in which 
the seer first beheld them. They are distinguished 
in various particulars from the palm-bearing mul 
titude. They sit; the palm-bearers stand. They 
have crowns and thrones; the palm-bearers have 
neither. They appeared in their places and re 
ceived their rewards before the sorrows of judg 
ment began; the palm-bearers only come to their 
place before the throne after the judgment has 
progressed to the sixth seal. The Elders were in 
heaven before "the hour of trial" came, being 
"accounted worthy to escape all these things; the 
palm-bearers were in that "trial," and only reach 
heaven " out of the tribulation, the great one." The 
Elders and Living ones are "Kings and Priests;" 
the palm-bearers are connected with the same gen 
eral company, but only in the capacity of servants. 
It is therefore a great mistake to confound these 
palm-bearers with the highest order of saints. 

2. Equally erroneous is it, to identity these palm- 
bearers with the sealed ones of the preceding 
vision. The sealed ones consist of a definite and 
ascertained number; but these palm-bearers are 
uncounted and numberless. The sealed ones are 
all Israelites, blood-descendants of the patriarch 
Jacob; but these palm-bearers are described as 
" out of every nation, and [of all] tribes, and peoples, 
and tongues." The sealing of the sealed ones had 
reference to their preservation through storms of 
judgment upon men on earth, which storms are 
only let loose under the seventh seal ; but these 

LJSCTURB xvi. CHAP. 7: 9-17. 435 

palm-bearers are already in heaven before the sev 
enth seal is touched. Besides, in a subsequent 
vision, in chap. 14, we find this particular 144,000 
again, in their own distinct character, and only 
then, at that late period, introduced into their 
glorified estate. It is, therefore, most unreason 
able, and forever irreconcilable with the record, 
to take these palm-bearers and the 144,000 sealed 
ones as one and the same body. They are as dif 
ferent as time, place, and characterizing circum 
stances can make two classes of people. 

3. Neither do these palm-bearers represent the 
Church universal at the end of the great tribula 
tion. We have that in the 20th chapter, in its own 
proper place, and including all these several sepa 
rate classes of the redeemed. I have seen it put 
forth by an otherwise creditable writer, and upon 
the authority of the vision now before us, that there 
is no such thing as a rapture of the Church before 
the great tribulation ; that these palm-bearers show 
us the Church in final salvation; and that they all 
pass under the great tribulation, and only come to 
glory through it. But he is sadly mistaken in 
every point of this statement. Where do the gold- 
crowned Elders and Living ones come from, if 
there is no rapture of the Church before the great 
tribulation? They are glorified saints, clearly 
identified as such, in chapters 4 and 5 ; and they 
are glorified and crowned before the great judg 
ment tribulation begins, being saved from that 
" hour of trial." And where is the proof that these 
palm-bearers re j resent the Church at all ? They 


are not called the Church, or any part of it. The 
Church the JEcclesia in its proper New Testa 
ment acceptation, ends its earthly course with what 
was represented by "the seven churches," and is 
never heard of again in all the Apocalypse, after 
the third chapter, except as it appears in the El 
ders and Living ones in glory. There still are 
believers, saints, and witnesses for God, who sub 
sequently attain to high and glorious places in the 
Divine Kingdom ; but they are not " the Church of 
the first-born" the only proper Church, which 
receives its judgment, and whose true members 
are apportioned their heavenly dignities, before a 
single seal is broken, and hence some time before 
this palm-bearing multitude appears before the 

Besides, if there is no rapture of the Church 
until the final termination of the judgment trou 
bles, and all the saints together only then are in 
troduced into glory, how shall we account for 
John s mental questionings and uncertainties with 
reference to these palm-bearers? If they repre 
sent the finally complete Church, did he not know 
that the Church was to be thus exalted and glori 
fied? Was he so ignorant of the character and 
destiny of that chosen body of which he was an 
apostle and a chief, as not to know it, or whence 
it came, upon encountering it in heaven ? Would 
it not be a sorry impeachment of his apostolic 
character and enlightenment, besides very stupid 
and unreasonable, to proceed on such an assump 
tion, or on anything which involves it ? The man- 

LECTURE XVI. CHAP. 7:9-17. 437 

ifest fact that he was perplexed and in doubt with 
reference to these palm-bearers, and that the Elder 
interfered to solve his questionings, proves that 
they are not the Church proper, but the Church 
of the after-born, if of the Church at all; that is, a 
body of saved ones, with a history and place pecu 
liarly their own, and not as yet exactly understood 
by the apostle. 

Still further, it is a false gloss upon the Elder s 
words, to understand them as if these palm-bearers 
had passed through the entire duration of the judg 
ment troubles before reaching the position in which 
John beholds them. The language corresponds 
with the order of succession in these several vis 
ions, and suggests, if it does not imply, that these 
palm-bearers cease to be in the great tribulation 
before its final termination. It is not said that 
they pass through it, but that they c&me out of it, thus 
leaving it behind them to run on after they are 

Some argue, indeed, that " the great tribulation 
is realized only under the seventh seal, during the 
murderous domination of the Beast and the False 
Prophet; and that as these palm-bearers "coine 
out of the tribulation, the great one/ we must 
necessarily throw this vision forward, and nearer 
to the extremity at which all tribulation ends. 
But this also is a mistake. That which the Scrip 
tures describe as "the great tribulation," though 
inseparably linked with the Judgment, is made 
up of more thim one blast. There is a tide in it, 
dividing it into sections. There was a prelibatioD 


of -t in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jew 
ish state, as that was also a prelibation of the Judg 
ment itself. And though the highest stress and 
fulness of the great tribulation are realized under 
the seventh seal with its trumpets and vials, we 
have the testimony of Christ himself, that mighty 
gusts of its power are expended before the opening 
of the sixth seal. The darkening of the sun, the 
obscuration of the moon, the falling of the stars, 
and the shaking of the whole system of nature, 
described in Matthew 24 : 29, and Mark 13 : 24, 
are precisely identical with the great physical 
prodigies which John beheld at the opening of the 
sixth seal, and are the great characteristics of the 
sixth seal. And yet, in both instances, these oc 
currences are located by the Saviour "after" and 
"immediately after," very sore and awful tribula 
tion, which is necessarily embraced in, though it 
does not exhaust, that "great tribulation, such as 
was not since the beginning of the world to this 
time, no, nor ever shall be. 77 (Matt. 24 : 21.)* We 

* It is manifest that the great and unequalled tribulation here 
described, is not viewed by the Saviour us finally ended before 
the occurrences of verse 29. This is proven from what is said 
in verse 30 ; for there he tells us that " then " after the physical 
commotions of verse 29 shall all the tribes of the earth mourn." 
This universal mourning is certainly a part of what is summarily 
referred to in verse 21 ; but it is specifically said to come after 
the events which are confessedly coincident with the sixth seal. 
The manner in which Mark gives the same things, seems also 
distinctly tc imply, that the tribulation preceding the disturb 
ances in sun, moon, and stars, is only a part or section of the one 
great time of trouble. He represents the Saviour as saying, 
after thai tribulation, the sun shall be darkened." &c., imply- 

LECTURE XVI. CHAP. 7:9-17 439 

thus have it scripturally ascertained, that "the 
tribulation, the great one," partly precedes, as 
well as partly succeeds, the breaking of the sixth 
seal. These palm-bearers could therefore be in it 
and come out of it, and still be transferred to heaven 
before the last dregs of it are poured out upon the 
guilty world. 

Referring back to the second, third, fourth, and 
fifth seals to the red horseman, taking peace 
from the earth and filling it with strife, havoc, 
and bloodshed to the black horse of scarcity and 
famine to the livid horse, with death-plague on 
his back and greedy hell at his heels, overrunning 
the world and to the persecution and butchery 
of men for their faithful testimony for God under 
the fifth seal we behold an accumulation of suf 
ferings and horrors which, if they belong not to 
the Great Tribulation of the judgment times, I 
know not how to place or what to call. And as 
these palm-bearers do not appear upon the heav 
enly scene until after the opening of the sixth seal, 

ing some other or further tribulation, which the record in Matt. 
24 : 30, and the trumpets and vials of the Kevelation show to be 
subsequent to these marked commotions, just as the first was 
before them. 

It is quite untenable to assign the unequalled tribulation of 
Matt. 24 : 21 to the fall of Jerusalem, and the subsequent afflic 
tions of the Jewish people, in any sense except as preliminary 
first fruits a mere sample in advance ; for in Daniel 12 : 1, this 
unparalleled time is unmistakably connected with the deliver 
ance, not with the destruction, of that people. Properly, there 
fore, it relates to the ending of the times ?f the Gentiles, not 
to the beginning of them, as some have erroneously insisted. 


they must needs have been partakers in these 
dreadful trials, and hence are rightly described as 
coming out of "the tribulation, the great one/ 
though translated and in heaven before its last 
blasts smite the guilty world. 

Our position thus stands firm, that these palm- 
bearers do not represent the Church general at the 
end of all tribulation, or anywhere else. 

4. It is doubtful, even, whether there are any 
resurrected people at all among this multitude. 
There may be such, but there is no proof to that 
effect. There is nothing said about resurrection, 
and nothing which necessarily involves it. A rap 
ture or translation, like that of Enoch or Elijah, is 
implied; for these people are in heaven, and have 
received their places arid rewards; but it is not 
intimated that any of them had ever died. They 
are to hunger and thirst no more; but it is not 
added that they shall die no more. To those under 
the fifth seal, who had lost their lives for Christ, 
the word was that they must rest as disembodied 
souls under the altar, until others of their brethren 
should be slain as they had been. But we read 
of no more such slaying of witnesses for the truth 
before the opening of the seventh seal. This 
would seem to imply that no resurrection occurs 
between the fifth and the seventh seals. It is but 
a remote implication, and cannot be regarded as 
conclusive ; but if correct, it precludes the possi 
bility of any resurrected ones being among this 
palm-bearing multitude. At any rate, as all of 
them come " out of the tribulation, the great one," 

LECTUKB XVI. CHAP. 7:9-17. 44} 

there can be no resurrected ones included, except 
such as died during the great tribulation time. 

We thus find our inquiry greatly narrowed, and 
ourselves far on the way to a satisfactory under 
standing of the whole matter. I therefore proceed 
to state more positively who these palm-bearers 
are, and whence they come. 

1. They are ransomed human beings. They 
were once sinners and sufferers on the earth, and 
members of its tribes and peoples. They were 
cleansed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus. 
They ascribe their salvation to God and to the 
Lamb. Whether they be rated with the Church 
proper, or not, they are by nature of the stock of 
Adam, and by grace of the family of the redeemed. 

2. They are people who were living on the earth 
in the period of the Judgment. The great tribu 
lation times are everywhere inseparably linked 
with the judgment times (see Dan. 12, Matt. 24, 
Mark 13, Eev. 1:7); and this whole multitude is 
made up of those who come out of the great tribula 
tion. This is positively stated by the hierophant 
Elder, and so recorded by John. It is therefore 
true, and no man is at liberty to question it. There 
are other saved ones, of several classes, who sub 
sequently come out of the afterparts of this great 
tribulation the 144,000, for instance, the two wit 
nesses, and those which refuse to worship the Beast 
or to receive his mark but they are not of this 
particular company. 

Some make a great deal of the allusion to the 
number of these palm-bearers, and might perhaps 


bring this forward against their being contempo 
raries in one particular period of the world s his 
tory. But Dr. Hengstenberg has well observed 
that, "this magnifying of the numbers here to 
something beyond all bounds," is not legitimate. 
The Jews constitute a very small fraction of the 
people now living, or that will be living when the 
judgment comes. And yet, the few elect and 
sealed from among them, as beheld in the preced 
ing vision, make up a multitude which the Apostle 
did not pretend to count. He " heard the number" 
of them; otherwise, even that company would have 
been numberless to him. And if we add to that 
number, in proportion as all nations, peoples, 
kindreds, and tongues exceed the Jewish popula 
tion, we will necessarily have a body sufficiently 
large to answer all the terms of the description 
before us. When John speaks of these palm- 
bearers as " a great multitude which no one could 
number," he speaks relatively, not absolutely. 
(Compare his language in John 21 : 25.) And if 
we add to the number of the sealed ones, but 
twenty-five for one, we will have more than 4,000,- 
000 of people, who, if viewed in one congregation, 
as in this vision, would be vastly in excess of the 
capacity of one man to count, and hence " a great 
multitude which no one could number." And 
when we consider the import of the opening of 
the first seal, the moral and spiritual revolution 
which it sets forth in vast masses of mankind, and 
the continuous ongoing of these conquests, jndg- 
ment-aided, under all the subsequent seals, there 


certainly is no just reason for hesitating to believe, 
that by the time the end of the sixth seal is reached, 
there will be people enough, won from the half- 
christianity, lukewarmness, unbelief, and sins in 
which the beginning of the judgment found them, 
to make up even " a great multitude which no man 
could number." At any rate, we are not to allow 
reasonings of our own, upon expressions altogether 
indefinite, to stand against the clear and positive 
Divine statement, that all these palm-bearers come 
out of the great tribulation, and hence must of neces 
sity have lived upon the earth contemporaneously 
in the judgment time. 

3. They are people whom the judgment found 
unprepared, and who consequently were "left" 
when the rapture of the Church took place. The 
Scriptures are everywhere very particular in fore 
warning us that the day of the Lord shall come as 
a thief in the night that it will come as a snare 
on all them that dwell on the earth that the great 
mass of men, and even of the professing Church, 
shall be overtaken by it unawares and that, "in 
that night, there shall be two in one bed," one of 
whom "shall be taken, and the other left;" and 
"two grinding at the mill," one of whom "shall 
be taken, and the other left;" and two in the field, 
one of whom " shall be taken, and the other left." 
The representations are also very clear, that great 
will be the number of those who will thus be " left." 
Indeed, the intimations are, that so few will be 
found ready, and waiting for their Lord, that their 
removal will cause no very noticeable depletion in 


the population of the earth. The great body ol 
the professed Church of that day will be " left," 
as well as the entire community not of the Church; 
for " when the Son of man cometh, shall he find 
faith on the earth?" And to all that are then 
found unready, and are " left," gone forever will be 
the privileges and honors of "the Church of the 
firstborn !" Gone, the crowns, the thrones, the 
princedoms of eternity, which are now so freely 
offered to every hearer of the Gospel ! Gone, to 
return no more, all hope and opportunity of re 
gaining the lost prize of immortal kingship and 
dominion! Grovelling worldlings, profane blas 
phemers, blinded skeptics, may not understand it, 
and, for the most part, go on in their sins; but, for 
millions upon millions, "there shall be weeping 
and gnashing of teeth." In place of invitations to 
heavenly rulership, will be judgment pangs; and 
in place of the joyous day of God s long-suffering, 
will be the dark waves of the great tribulation. 

But, even then, not yet everything will be lost. 
The crown will be gone, but salvation may still be 
attained. There will then be no more heavenly 
thrones to be distributed, but there will still be 
palms to be secured. The pains of the great tribu 
lation will then have to be endured, but there will 
remain a possibility of coming out of it, before it 
culminates in eternal perdition. And many, whose 
repentance comes, alas, too late for eternity s 
higher glories, will turn themselves in sorrowful 
earnestness to that Saviour whose sublimer offers 
they let slip for this paltry and perishing world 

LKCTUKE XVI. CHAP 7:9-17. 445 

" For when God s judgments are in the earth, the 
inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." 
(Is. 16 : 9.) 

Not by any means all, who are "left" when the 
Church is translated, will thus turn unto the Lord. 
The corrupt world will continue to be the same 
base and God-defiant world, until the waves of 
hell go over it forever. " Many shall be purified, 
and made white, and tried ; but the wicked shall 
do wickedly." (Dan. 12 : 10.) As the calamities 
thicken and deepen, evil will become more out 
breaking, and rush with giant strides to its final 
consummation. But, amid much painful disap 
pointment, regretful tears, and great tribulation, 
Laodiceans, who thought they were rich, and in 
creased in goods, and had need of nothing, will 
discover how wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and 
naked they were the while, and repent, and profit 
by their chastenings, and find salvation, though 
having lost their crowns ; and many more, who 
would not give themselves to Jesus in order to be 
eternal Kings, will learn to think themselves happy 
to follow him in the fires of judgment, if they may 
only be servants in the kingdom of heaven. And 
these are they whom John here beholds " standing 
before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in 
white robes, and palms in their hands." 

All this is latently contained in what is recorded 
of these palm-bearers. " These are they that come 
out of the tribulation, the great one; and they have 
washed their robes and made them white in the 
blood of the Lamb. On this account they are 


before the throne of God, and serve him day and 
night in his temple." Having been "left" when 
the elect were "taken," John would naturally be 
surprised to find them in heaven. Having come 
under the judgment pains, he would naturally infer 
that heaven was not for them. Hence his silent 
astonishment at beholding so large a company of 
after-comers exalted into the presence of God; and 
hence the special explanation of the Elder. 

It is one of Christ s messages from heaven to 
his people on earth: "Behold, I come as a thief. 
Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his gar 
ments." (Eev. 16:15.) The implication of the 
Elder s words is, that these people had failed to 
comply with these conditions, while the judgment 
delayed ; but were worldly in their temper, had 
their "garments spotted by the flesh," and so were 
without right to the promises. Making them 
selves at home in the ways, and thinking, and 
emoluments of this world, of course they had no 
claim on heaven. The Apostle was, therefore, 
justly surprised to see them in heaven. But the 
Elder explains it. Having been cut off* from the 
Church of the first-born, and made to feel their 
failure by the fierceness of judgment sorrows, they 
came to a better mind. Their spotted garments 
they washed in the blood of the Lamb. Their 
false philosophizing they gave up for the simplici 
ties of the faith; and the truths they once accounted 
fanaticism, they found to their sorrow and at length 
confessed to be realities. And by the depths of 
their penitence, amid the pains of the great tribu 

LEG TUBE XVI. CHAP. 7:9-17. 447 

latiori, and by the sorrowful earnestness of their 
seeking unto Jesus in the last extremities, they 
obtained forgiveness, and were recovered from 
their sins. "On this account," the Elder says, 
they are saved, though out of the fires of judg 
ment; admitted into heaven, even though they 
have lost their places among the crowned ones; 
permitted to stand "before the throne of God," 
though they have no thrones for themselves; 
made servants in God s house, though not of the 
high order of royal sons. 

Having, then, ascertained who these Palm- 
bearers are, the next point to be considered is 
their blessedness. We have not the time now for 
such a discussion of it as it deserves ; but a few 
observations are demanded, before dismissing the 

1. They are in heaven. This is a great thing to 
say of any one. It is to be in the enjoyment of 
an estate, by the side of which all the exaltation, 
honor and glory this world can bestow, shrinks 
into utter nothingness. Lazarus in heaven, is a 
far sublimer picture than that of any rich man on 
earth, however royally clad, or sumptuously luxu 
riant in worldly possessions. " Oh, if I can only 
get to heaven!" is often the highest ejaculation of 
the noblest and purest hearts. And this goal of 
pious longing, these Palm-bearers have reached. 
They are where the gold-crowned Elders and the 
glorious Living ones are. They are where the 
holy angels stand round them in serried ranks of 
glory upon glory. They are where the Almighty s 


throne is located, where God is, and where thi 
Lamb shows Himself in all His sublime benignity 
and power. They are where the pure worship 
ascends forever in the presence of eternal God 
head, and the Amens to every strain of adoration 
come in from principalities and powers. They 
are in Heaven ! True, they have no crowns, no 
thrones, no dominion. True, they stand while 
some others sit, and serve while others reign. 
True, they come in after all the royal places of 
the first-born are filled. But still, they are in 
Heaven! bright, beautiful, lovely, untainted, im 
perishable, HEAVEN! 

2. They are "before the throne of God," that 
throne which John saw set in heaven, encircled 
with an iris of emerald, and filled by Him whose 
appearance is like crystalline and smokeless flame ; 
that throne around which all other thrones are 
stationed, and out of which go forth the lightnings, 
and voices, and thunders of the eternal forces. 
They are not joined to the throne, as the Living 
ones; nor associated with its Occupant in subre- 
gencies, like the Elders ; but they are in the pres 
ence of it, before it, near it; nearer even than the 
angels. To be admitted into the presence of the 
King, to be permitted to stand before the throne 
when the King is there in the majesty and state 
of His eternal dominion, and to be allowed to re 
main in such a station permanently, is an honor 
not be dispised. It was the high distinction of 
David to stand before King Saul, after that victory 
over Goliath. It is a privilege which is awarded 

LECTURE XVL CHAP. 7:9-17. 449 

to none but those who find favor in the King s 
sight. And these Palm-bearers "stand before the 
throne, and before the Lamb." 

3. They are " clothed in white robes." They wear 
the garments of saints they are attired in un 
spotted righteousness and faultless splendor, ac 
quired through the Saviour s blood. They were 
sinners once, but they are holy now. They were 
naked once, but they are clothed now; and their 
clothing is the pure and shining raiment of heaven. 
To be free from sin ! to be sure that our hearts 
are clean ! to be released forever from the soils 
of earth and its corruptions ! to be clothed with 
the unsullied purity of the spiritually perfect ! is 
the deepest, greatest, heaviest sigh of every child 
of God ! But these Palm-bearers realize what it 
is to have these yearnings satisfied. They have 
robes ; and those robes are spotless bright, having 
been washed and whited in the blood of the Lamb. 

4. They have "palm branches in their hands." The 
joy of the feast of tabernacles is theirs. God or 
dained for his ancient people that, after the harvest 
was gathered, they should take the branches of 
palm trees, and dwell in booths, and rejoice before 
Him, as the Lord that brought them up out of 
Egypt. And so we read in Nehenriah, that "all 
the congregation of them that were come again out 
of the captivity," as they found written in the law, 
fetched olive-branches, and palm-branches, and 
branches of thick trees, to make booths, and sat 
under the booths, " and there was very great glad 
ness" These seasons were the most joyous, ex- 

VOL. i. 29 


ultant and bright, observed by the Israehtish 
people. They were times when everything glit 
tered and thrilled with deep, pure, and lively joy. 
And these palm-branches in the hands of this 
white-robed multitude connect with the ancient 
feast of tabernacles, and bespeak: gladdest exulta 
tion over their deliverance. To this also answers 
the further description, which represents them as 
" crying with a great voice, saying, The Salvation 
[be ascribed] to our God who sitteth upon the 
throne, and to the Lamb;" whilst angels, and 
Elders, and Living ones fall down on their faces in 
reverent adoration, and answer: " Amen, the bless 
ing, and the glory, and the wisdom, and the thanks 
giving, and the honor, and the power, and the 
might, be to our God, unto the ages of the ages. 

5. They serve day and night in the temple of God. 
This shows them to be no longer subject to the 
clogs and weariness of mortal life, but glorified, 
and in the immortal state. John saw no temple 
in the New Jerusalem ; but the New Jerusalem is 
not all of heaven. There is a celestial temple as 
well as an earthly one. Jesus, in this very Apo 
calypse, gives the promise : " Him that overcometh 
will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and 
he shall go no more out." (Chap. 3 : 12.) And in 
that temple these Palm-bearers serve continually. 
In what their services consist, is not told us ; but 
they are services befitting saints and the glory of 
heaven, and such as give ample exercise to all 
their glorified capacities and powers. 

LECTURE XVI. CHAP. T:9-17. 451 

6. Nor are they without God s distinct and favor 
able acknowledgment. "He that sitteth on the 
throne knows them ;" or, as in other copies of the 
text, He " shall spread his tent upon them," " taber 
nacle over them." As the Shekinah brooded over 
the pilgrim Hebrews by day and by night, the 
glorious symbol of the Divine presence, protec 
tion, and favor, so these Palm-bearers abide under 
the shadow of the Almighty. As in the final con 
summation the tabernacle of God shall be with 
men, and he shall tabernacle with them, and they 
shall be his people, and God Himself shall be with 
them as their God; so shall His pavilion cover 
these Palm-bearers, and they shall be His people, 
and He will be their God. 

7. " They shall not hunger any more, nor yet 
thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on 
them, no, nor any scorching heat." Oh, to be de 
livered from the straits, and wants, and painful ne 
cessities of mortal life ! to be released from these 
earthly burdens, vicissitudes, and deaths ! to find 
some blessed homestead, where these aching, 
wasting, dying natures may once know what it is 
to have abiding rest! Man s anguished spirit 
knows no intenser hunger and thirst than this. 
But what we all thus yearn for, is the everlasting 
possession of these saints. Once they felt the 
weight of famine, the plague of drought, the fires 
of trial, and the burdens of toil ; but, gone forever, 
now, are all " the burdens that galled, and the cares 
that oppressed them." 

And the reason why they fare so happily, aa 


stated by the Elder, is, " because the Lamb which 
is in the midst of the throne is their shepherd, and 
shall lead them to fountains of waters of life, and 
God shall wipe away every tear out of their eyes." 
O the blessedness, the peace, the comfort, the 
everlasting satisfaction, which is the portion of 
these Palm-bearers! Our souls thrill with the 
mere contemplation of it ! What must it then be 
to possess it to feel it to be our own to enjoy it 
without let or hindrance forever! A home so 
happy, a rest so glorious, a place so high, a bliss 
so exquisite and enduring, would not be too dearly 
purchased at a cost of all the pains of the great 
tribulation. It is verily the very mount of trans 
figuration to which we are carried by this theme. 
We feel ourselves overshadowed with the cloud 
of brightness. We cannot open even our drowsy 
eyes to the scene, but our lips mutter: "Lord, it 
is good for us to be here." Fain would we set up 
our tabernacles where we might ever contemplate 
the blaze of living glory. Here we would sit for 
ever viewing bliss so great, so true, so high. This 
glorious Lamb ! This glorious throne ! These 
glorious ones with their glorious crowns! This 
effulgence of gracious Godhead ! These sinless 
splendors ! These eternal consolations ! These 
holy services! These smiles of favor beaming 
from the King! These never- withering palms! 
These ever-shining robes! These ever-thrilling 
songs ! These ever-flowing springs of never-failing 
life ! These joy-speaking eyes which never weep, 
and singing lips which never thirst, and uplifted 

LECTURE XVI. CHAP. 7:9-17. 453 

hands which never tire, and comforts from God 
as a mother would comfort the child she loves, and 
sorrow and sighing forever fled away ! O blessed, 
blessed, blessed contemplation ! 

And yet, this is only an inferior part of Heaven. 
There are higher dignities and sublimer joys. " It 
doth not yet appear what we shall be;" but, as 
golden crowns exceed palm-branches, and kings 
are above servants, and the possession of a throne 
is more than to stand before one, even by so much 
is the heavenly estate held out to us greater than 
that of these Palm-bearers. 

I know not, O I know not, 

What royal joys are there ! 
What radiancy of glory, 

What light beyond compare ! 

And when I fain would sing them, 

My spirit fails and faints ; 
And vainly would it image 

The possessions of the saints. 

But, from these high scenes, we must go down 
again into the common world, where tears, sin 
and death still hold dominion. Duties, and pains, 
and trials await us there ; and often we may grow 
faint and weary under them. Let us, then, go to 
them, humbler, wiser, and better men, determined 
to do, and bear, and wait, and watch, till the Master 
says, It is enough. But, let us not omit to carry 
with us the strengthening, quickening, and puri 
fying inspiration of what we have seen and learned 


this night. These Palm-bearers reached their 
blessedness through the pains of the great tribula 
tion ; but to us is offered a better and higher por 
tion than theirs, and without the judgment sor 
rows which they were made to feel. If we will 
but keep our garments, and the word of Christ s 
patience, and work, and watch, and pray, as He 
has given command, His word is out to keep us 
from the hour of trial which shall come upon the 
lukewarm, the worldly-minded, and the unbeliev 
ing in that day, now so near at hand. Let us then 
know and improve our privileges, and ever press 
toward the mark for the prize of our high call 
ing ; remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, 
how he said : " Behold, I come quickly ; hold fast 
that thou hast, that no man take thy crown." 

nr or VOL, i. 

BS Seiss, Joseph Augustus 

2825 The Apocalypse 12th ed